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12 Feb

VIEWS OF THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED WOMEN ON ISSUES CONFRONTING THEM

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Nandini Voice for The Deprived (nandinivoice.com), organized a meeting  on 11th February,2018 at Youth Hostel, Indira Nagar, Chennai between 10 a.m.  and  1 p.m. to give an opportunity to visually impaired  women to discuss the problems confronting them and give suggestions as to what the society and government  should do to make  their lives easier and better.

Fourteen visually impaired women in various age groups, educational background and  all of them belonging to lower income group participated. This included students, those selling assorted items in running trains to make a living, unemployed persons etc.

All the fourteen visually impaired women were complimented  with  cash award  for  their contribution to the thoughts.

Mr. N.S.Venkataraman, Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived conducted the proceedings.

Ms. Leela  Narendran, educationist and social activist, Prof. Vijayakumar (a visually impaired person ) and  Col. A. Krishnaswami were the judges who  gave their expert views on the observations made by  visually  impaired women.

Mr.M.Mariyappan, social activist, proposed vote of thanks.

Highlights of the views expressed by visually impaired women participants are given below.

1.      Need for  free hostels for visually impaired women :

There  are more than six lakh visually impaired women in Tamil Nadu and more than 80% of them belong to lower income group. Many of them lack family support, as the families  themselves are living in difficult economic conditions.

The poverty conditions, lack of employment and personal safety  issues  are confronting them severely. It is absolutely necessary that the government should set up one free hostel  for unemployed  visually impaired women in  each district headquarters to provide them social security.

2.     Need for support for marketing efforts :

Visually impaired  women  even with high qualification of M A B.Ed. are now seen selling  assorted items in running trains to make a living.

They often face various forms of  harassment  from authorities and sometimes even from public,  as they try to sell in the running trains and bus stands.  Facing unemployment and poverty conditions, they have no other options  to make a living,.

The government should recognize  visually impaired men and women selling assorted items as a profession and  should set up a separate department  to help them carry on their activities,.

This department should make goods available for them  at fair price for    selling in the market and should  encourage the government departments and public to purchase from them considering it as their social responsibility.

3.     Response level of the society :

Visually impaired women recognize  that several NGOs  and public spirited persons do support their cause from time to time.

However, there is rare practice of  the members of society  regularly providing support on a continuous and systematic manner .

While there are more than  six lakhs  visually impaired women in Tamil Nadu, the number of families in affordable income group in the state far exceed this number . If each family in the affordable income group would choose to support atleast one visually impaired woman in any required form, then the problems of the visually impaired women will be wiped out in one stroke.

4.     Status of visually impaired women :

It was also pointed out that while there are persons in the affordable income group  willing to provide some donation at one time or the other ,  many of them  do  not desire to interact with the visually impaired women  in person , treating them as equal.  To this extent, there is need for attitudinal  change amongst the affordable income families in the society.

While there is sympathy for visually impaired women in the society, still they are looked upon as lesser class citizens by  normal persons, which considerably affect  the morale and confidence level of the visually impaired women.

5.     Reservation policy of the government :

1% of the government jobs are reserved for visually impaired persons. However, the government seems to make a difference between the low vision people and nil vision people and nil vision people are often rejected for jobs under one pretext or the other.       

As private sector organisations  are   the large employers in India, all private sector organisations employing more than 100 people should be directed  to employ atleast 1% of the total employees  from visually impaired  women category.

6.     Self employment :

The society and government often say  that the visually impaired women  should self employ themselves.  But, there are many practical problems. The  banks  are willing to lend  them loan of just  Rs.5000  without  security. What business can one start with this ?

Government should evolve a scheme exclusively for    visually impaired women to organize themselves as self employment group and involve themselves  in  self  employment functions. Many possible avenues and methodologies were suggested towards this objective   

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