Eswatini Association of Visually Impaired Persons (ESAVIP) and the UN Family Celebrate World Sight Day and the International White Cane Day
26 November 2021
World Sight Day and the International White Cane Day aim to raise awareness about visual impairment, including blindness.
On the 26th of November 2021, the United Nations Family celebrated World Sight Day and International White Cane Day with the Eswatini Association of Visually Impaired Persons (ESAVIP) at Sigwe Inkhundla, donating 400 white canes to the Association.
World Sight Day and the International White Cane Day are annual celebrations to raise awareness about visual impairment, including blindness, as well as the independence with which the white cane provides for persons with blindness and visual impairment, respectively. The global theme for this year’s World Sight Day was; "Love Your Eyes."
According to the World Health Organization, an approximate 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment, with at least one billion of these having a vision impairment that could have been prevented or repaired.
"Today, we honor the incredible courage, resilience, and determination of people living with blindness and visual impairment who live and work independently, lead their families and communities, and make a difference in a sighted world. We honor and admire your contributions to Eswatini and the world," said Ms. Amina Mohammed, Acting UN Resident Coordinator.
“In our beautiful nation, an estimated 12,000 people live with visual impairment, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), of which 6,000 cases are resultant from cataracts. It is therefore essential that we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters living with visual impairment – those who do not have the same privilege to see the world as many others do,” continued Ms Mohammed.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, and expose inequalities, persons with visual impairment are at great risk of being left behind. Persons with disabilities are already less likely to access education and healthcare, as well as economic opportunities and those of leadership within their communities: access which has weakened during the pandemic, and in turn, the recent civil unrest in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Ms Nondumiso Shongwe, the Chairperson of ESAVIP, stated: “We urge the Government and development partners to include people with disabilities in discussions about issues that concern us. ‘Nothing about us without us.’”
The United Nations Family donated the 400 white canes to empower persons with visual impairment in Eswatini, remaining committed to achieving a "just, prosperous, and resilient Eswatini where no one is left behind" through Agenda 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025.
The UN is working closely with the Deputy Prime Minister's Office's Disability Unit to empower EmaSwati with disabilities to thrive and live independent lives.