We’re pleased to announce that thanks to the generosity of our donors and our celebrity supporters, we raised over £32,000 with our Women = Change appeal.

The appeal will help to support women in Bangladesh who struggle with access to treatment for leprosy. The stigma surrounding this disease means that many affected face horrific discrimination. This is particularly felt by women, leaving them vulnerable to abandonment. Cultural barriers in Bangladesh also prevent them from seeing a male doctor alone and, fearing the consequences of a relative discovering their condition, women often hide their symptoms – leaving them at an increased risk of developing life-changing disability.

To break down these barriers, we train female Community Champions to recognise early signs of leprosy in women in their community. They refer women for diagnosis and treatment as well as follow up with home visits to offer support with self-care techniques that help reduce disabilities.

Joanna Lumley, who supported the campaign, comments about gender inequality in Bangladesh:

I have seen the poverty people are faced with in Bangladesh. Access to basic healthcare can be difficult and many go without the vital treatments they need – for women, gender inequality often makes it even harder.

Community Champions provide a lifeline for women affected by leprosy. They play a vital part in ensuring they receive the diagnosis and treatment to which they are entitled. I am supporting Lepra’s ‘Women = Change’ appeal in the sincerest hopes that many more women will be found and treated for leprosy.

Jo Brand added:

It’s a sad realisation that today, gender can still determine whether somebody is able to access medical treatment or not. Women, especially in the poorest parts of the world, face many barriers which prevent them from taking control of their own health and the consequences of delayed treatment can be awful.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge offered donors the opportunity to double their donations for a limited time via the Big Give website. It works based on matched funding from pledges and organisations. This year, 528 charities took part and over £11 million was raised for good causes.

Find out more about more about what our celebrity supporters say about our community champions here.