Fred Hollows believed that everyone who needed eye care, could and should receive it. In carrying on Fred’s spirit, International Women’s Day is an important date for The Foundation as we strongly advocate for women’s health and equality around the world.
Women and girls account for 55% of the world’s blind and vision impaired. Even though the prevalence of blindness is falling for everyone, over the past 30 years, the prevalence of blindness for men dropped by 33% compared to just 25% for women.
It’s clear that blindness disproportionately affects women.
The impact of vision impairment and blindness go far beyond the women affected, impacting their families and communities. That’s why The Fred Hollows Foundation is working hard to give women equal opportunities to access eye health services, and giving women the chance to be leaders, training more women eye health workers.
Today we celebrate some incredible women and reflect on the biases and challenges that they have been able to face and overcome. We could have chosen many more amazing stories but here are just a few that hopefully will inspire you.
Carrying on Fred’s Legacy: From Australia to Indonesia
Dr Wulansari has a special connection with Fred Hollows.
In 2013, The Fred Hollows Foundation supported Dr Wulansari’s training in Hetauda, Nepal. She learned surgical techniques directly from Dr Sanduk Ruit, Fred's famous colleague and friend who himself has performed more than 120,000 cataract surgeries throughout his career.
For Dr Wulansari, nothing beats the feeling of witnessing a patient seeing clearly again after surgery.
“I’m very glad to see a patient see again. They can see, work, study, and pray without any problems. It makes me very happy,” she says.
More than 30 years since his death, Fred’s vision still lives on through passionate doctors and health workers like Dr Wulansari.
Fred was a firm believer that there should always be three people in a room: a teacher, a student and a patient. He knew that his students would eventually become teachers themselves too. While a country might only have one ophthalmologist, soon enough it could have two, then 10.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is carrying on Fred’s vision by training more women to become ophthalmologists who can not only improve eye health systems in their countries but also help to overcome gender barriers.
When it comes to healthcare, women are often associated with frontline health workers, volunteer community health workers, and nurses. But ophthalmologists like Dr Wulansari are changing this.
“I’m very, very thankful and grateful for The Fred Hollows Foundation, because of its generous support that inspire me and all of the ophthalmologists in Indonesia,” Dr Wulansari said.
A champion of community eye health