Spotlight on older women at WD2016

Burnet Institute

16 May, 2016

The role of older women and their importance to the community is the special theme of a Burnet Institute event at Women Deliver 2016 (WD2016), the world’s largest global conference in a decade on the health, rights and wellbeing of women and girls, in Copenhagen from May 16-19.

WD2016 brings together world leaders, civil society, the private sector, policymakers and others to discuss women and girls in the development sector with a particular focus on health and its connectedness with gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment.

In partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation (The Foundation) and HelpAge International (HAI), Burnet is hosting a panel discussion, Older Women Deliver Too: a life course approach to women’s and children’s health.

To be moderated by Lyric Thompson, Senior Policy Manager, International Centre for Research on Women, the event will highlight a range of projects including Burnet’s Better Vision and Healthy Ageing Program in Sri Lanka, as examples of what can be achieved by and for older women.

According to Burnet project manager and sexual and reproductive health specialist Kelly Durrant, Sri Lanka has one of the fastest ageing populations in Asia, but disability and illness undermines the ability of older people to contribute to their communities.

“The focus of WD2016 is how to improve maternal and child health, but nobody’s talking about grandmothers and the roles they play in terms of impacting on their communities,” Ms Durrant said from Copenhagen.

“The Better Vision Healthy Ageing Program is an innovative collaboration with Sri Lankan NGOs and the Sri Lankan Government. A key strategy has been to set up Elder’s Clubs in Nuwara Eliya district in central Sri Lanka, which then provide a platform for eye-care screening, health promotion and encourage social participation among elders.

“Older people were trained as Eye Health Promotors (EHPs) to go from club to club and conduct first-stage vision screening of their peers and refer people who may need glasses or cataract surgery to ophthalmic technologists.

“The Better Vision Healthy Ageing Program has been able to harness the contribution that older people can make to their own communities. We are here in Copenhagen to promote the roles of older women especially, and the contributions they make to women’s and children’s health.”

“Generally women’s eye health is poorer than men’s as women tend to prioritise the needs of other members of their family over their own. A lifetime of gender inequality also contributes to this inequality, and this is something that WD2016 is trying to address.”

The event, Older Women Deliver Too: a life-course approach to women’s and children’s health, takes place on Wednesday 18 May at Hall B5, Room M3, The Bella Center, Center Blvd, Copenhagen, from 6.45am – 8.15am.

To find out more about Burnet’s Better Vision Healthy Ageing Program, click here.


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