EXPO 2020Healthcare

The Fred Hollows Foundation Champions Gender Equity in Eye Healthcare at EXPO 2020 Dubai Women’s Pavilion

Participation at EXPO 2020 Dubai Women’s Pavilion builds on The Foundation’s “She Sees: Equal Right to Sight” campaign, and its work to remove treatment barriers for women and girls

The Fred Hollows Foundation will participate at EXPO 2020 Dubai Women’s Pavilion at the Sustainability District, 5 March, and on International Women’s Day, 8 March, to raise awareness about gender inequity in vision loss.

The agenda will also explore ways to end avoidable blindness, and remove barriers to treatment for women and girls, so that no one is left behind in the mission for equitable worldwide eye health.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is a leading international development organisation that has restored sight to more than 2.5 million people around the world and has supported programs to deliver more than 100 million doses of antibiotics for trachoma. This year, The Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Its presence at EXPO 2020 Dubai will focus specifically on highlighting the disparity in access to eye treatment for women and girls, building on The Foundation’s ongoing “She Sees: Equal Right to Sight” initiative, which seeks to raise awareness of and remove gender discrimination in accessing eye health.

Trachoma Emergency North Sherwa Ethiopia.

Ian Wishart, CEO of The Foundation, said: “We’re very pleased to be participating at the EXPO 2020 Dubai Women’s Pavilion this year, to raise awareness about gender inequity and share our work towards ending vision loss. The Women’s Pavilion is especially important to us, as we’ve been really focused on making it possible for more women and girls to access treatment, and the EXPO2020 Dubai will help us amplify the message behind the “She Sees” campaign.”

The Foundation’s agenda at the Pavilion will include guest speakers and fireside chats on why the world needs to care about gender inequity in vision loss. Jennifer Gersbeck, Global Advocacy Executive Director of The Foundation, will discuss the problems, challenges, and impacts facing the organisation, followed by a talk with The Noor Dubai Foundation on sustainable approaches to ending blindness, and a panel discussion on the role of governments and corporations in accelerating social impact investment. Other presentations will include how to leverage media coverage of eye health issues in order to place it on the global agenda.

Speaking about the lineup, Mr Wishart said: “EXPO is a global platform where we can connect with leaders from government, development organisations, media, businesses, associations, and academia, to address these critical eye-health development issues together. We want to connect and explore how we work together to end avoidable blindness and raise the dialogue around gender inequities in eye health.”


The “She Sees” campaign, and The Foundation’s focus on gender equity and empowering women through improved access to eye health, is in line with the ethos of International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day aims to recognise and commemorate the achievements – cultural, political, socioeconomic, and otherwise – of women around the world.

Currently, women and girls account for 55% of the world’s blind and vision impaired, and 9 out of 10 women and girls who are blind or vision impaired don’t need to be.

The Foundation will also recognise the one year anniversary of its strategic partnership agreement with Noor Dubai Foundation to reduce avoidable blindness for thousands of children and adults in Barishal, Bangladesh.

“Eye health is a pressing issue that needs urgent attention,” Mr Wishart said. “If we don’t act now, by 2050 it is estimated more than 61 million people will be blind. There also should be no gap in prevalence of vision loss between women and men, and we must scale-up efforts to reach those who are currently being left behind.”

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