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