Social Enterprise for Sight, is a project designed to address gender inequity and the challenges of a huge unmet need for eye care services at a community level.
Shagufta has a long history of being a source of support in her village. She is a mother of two children and lives in a rural village of Punjab, Pakistan. In her community she has worked as a dedicated Lady Health Worker employed by Health Department Punjab. A village based community organisation selected her for the Women Entrepreneurship program, facilitated by the Institute and partners, partially funded by the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She received training, a start-up inventory and relevant information to start her Social Enterprise for Sight.
Social Enterprise for Sight uses business principles to achieve accessibility, sustainability, and further expansion of services and has created business opportunities for dozens of women in rural Pakistan and brought eye care services to hundreds.
Shagufta feels contented while performing her duties and helping her community even beyond the scope of her job. She has served to more than 2,500 people mainly women and girls by June 30, 2017. This includes dispensing of more than 650 reading glasses and 200 sunglasses. She has referred around 250 persons mostly women to secondary and tertiary eye care facilities. She is earning 4,500/- PKR (AUD$ 56.3) on average per month. She is spending her income on the good quality education of her children. She has facilitated few women from her village, involved in tailoring and embroidery to improve the quality of their products through improved vision leading to more income.
“I have earned a lot of respect not only from own family but also from the people of my village. I do not know how many people feel this way about their jobs – but I love it. This opportunity has helped me to pursue my dream,” Shagufta said happily.
Approximately 1.5 million people in Pakistan are living with some form of blindness. The need for a pair of glasses to see clearly (uncorrected refractive error) has been identified as one of the most common causes.
Women account for approximately 64 per cent of all blind people globally, and in some regions, women and girls are only half as likely as men to be able to access eye care services. This is particularly evident in Pakistan, where cultural circumstances can prevent women from leaving their homes. We are finding through the female micro-entrepreneurs eye care service delivery for women has significantly increased.