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In India, it is estimated that it is twice as hard for women to find formal employment compared to their male counterparts.  The Eye Mitra Optician program is creating  new opportunities for Indian women to take control of their destiny and make a positive impact on their community.

The challenge for creating suitable employment opportunities for the growing youth population in India is particularly acute with regard to young women. Yet the positive impact of increasing Indian women’s participation in the labor force has been proven to enhance productivity and growth while reducing gender-based inequalities.

With over 550 million Indians lacking the vision correction they need, and only one optician for every 250,000 people in rural areas, the vision care sector today has an opportunity to help create jobs and improve the livelihoods  of Indian women through the promotion and provision of healthy vision.

The vision care sector today has an opportunity to help create jobs and improve the livelihoods  of Indian women through the promotion and provision of healthy vision

The Eye Mitra Optician program trains unemployed villagers in basic screening skills and spectacle dispensing, as well as providing coaching in entrepreneurial skills to help graduates of the program to start their own small businesses. Ms Sheelu Gupta trained as an Eye Mitra Optician in 2014 and has since been able to provide vision care to her township while bringing greater financial support to her family.

“I always had an aspiration to support my family in earning our livelihood. My husband has a small retail store but it was necessary for both of us to work. There are a few businesses that you can start with little capital. This Eye Mitra Optician initiative for rural entrepreneurship helped me to start my business and become a successful Eye Mitra. Initially, I wasn’t sure that I could understand such a technical course. But the trainers were very good and explained how to become a vision technician through practical and theory lessons which helped me learn easily.”

I always had an aspiration to support my family in earning our livelihood

“In addition to the positive impact on my own family, I am really struck by the impact a pair of eyeglasses can have on the women in my community,” adds Ms. Gupta. “Most women shoulder the largest burden of work in the household, taking care of sick or elderly family members and managing household chores whilst working to supplement the family income. When I help one person in a household to see better, that immediately makes them less dependent, thereby alleviating the women of the household.”

By supporting the emergence of women vision entrepreneurs, Essilor’s 2.5 New Vision Generation inclusive business division hopes to inspire more women to follow a similar path and contribute to developing the sustainable development of vision care in rural India.