In Vietnam, the number of women with visual impairment (2,2%) is significantly higher than the number of men (1,2%), as stated in the RAAB 2015. The higher rate in women can be explained by aspects such as higher exposure to risk factors, higher life expectancy, and limited access to eye care services. The latter refers to social, cultural, and economic inequality. In most rural families in the Mekong Delta, men and boys are considered the main breadwinners, so investing in their health is prioritized, leaving the womens’ and girls’ needs ignored. Furthermore, the current social perception in rural areas of women and girls wearing glasses is biased: it is believed that wearing glasses makes them less attractive. That’s why girls are less inclined to wear a pair.
Taking this into account, ECF Vietnam, with the financial support from USAID, is undertaking a study on gender barriers in eye care, with the aim to collect:
- Gender-disaggregated information from healthcare providers to collect data on the amount and percentages of boys and girls accessing eye care services;
- Information to understand the cultural, social, and economical factors that cause gender differences in access to these services;
- Information to understand the health needs and priorities of both girls and boys. This analysis is based on the format from the IAPB gender toolkit.
ECF Vietnam will use the collected data and information to sensitize local health authorities and all stakeholders about the eye health needs and barriers of girls and develop strategies to overcome these barriers.
Written by Chau Le Phan Minh