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Starkey Evolv AI - August 2021

Starkey’s Tani Austin Recognizes the Role of Women in Helping the World to Hear

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Mrs. Tani Austin, Starkey's Chief Philanthropy Officer, writes about and recognizes the role of women in helping the world to hear.

Each year, International Women’s Day is a time to recognize the immense impact women have on our world. We are mothers, sisters, wives, friends and role models. We’re also audiologists, advocates and changemakers who believe in speaking up for others and making our world a better place for everyone.

I am so blessed to have grown up with an incredible role model in life and in the hearing industry: my mother, Patsy. She taught me the true meaning of hard work and pursuing a career because of a greater calling to help others.

Having been in the hearing industry most of my life, I’m all too familiar with the reality that millions of women around the world lack access to the most basic health care and resources, including hearing aids and ongoing treatment for their hearing loss.

The World Health Organization estimates 430 million people have hearing loss around the globe; by 2050, that number will be closer to 700 million. Hearing loss is not a problem that is going away, and I believe that while women oftentimes find themselves cut off from health care resources, they are also the biggest advocates for accessibility for others. Women are the key to increasing global hearing health care. 

Women and mothers are the same around the world. They care about everyone else – their sons and daughters, their husbands, their friends and family – before they take care of themselves. I have seen that caring firsthand in places like Uganda where women are the center of their homes and their communities, which means they are also at the forefront, with strength and power, to advocate for hearing health for those they love. Women will always find a way to care for others. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that International Women’s Day and World Hearing Day are only five days apart on the calendar.

Through the Starkey Hearing Foundation, we have used these two dates to draw on the power of women to break down the barriers to care. By establishing the WFA community-based hearing health care model, we’ve also been able to create sustainable hearing health programs in over 70 countries to date. That means even long after we’re gone, these communities have the resources, training and education they need to shine their light and ensure hearing health is always a priority. 

Opening the Starkey Hearing Institute in 2016 helped to further establish sustainable hearing health care for women in our world, particularly in Africa. I’m grateful we’ve been able to inspire a generation of audiologists who want to make an impact in their communities for years to come by providing the education they may not have had access to otherwise.

Whether it’s a young girl finally being able to hear her older siblings' jokes and games or a mother being able to hear her child’s voice for the first time, hearing health is essential. It can mean the difference between just being alive and really living life to the fullest.

Back here at home, my husband, Bill Austin, and I have been so amazed at the masterful, excellent leadership at Starkey over the last several years and the women who have been integral to that growth. Having worked with so many incredible female leaders, visionaries and changemakers over my career, we are all united around one common goal of caring. No matter your degree or your experience, we are all rowing in the same direction because, at Starkey, we put the patient first. That’s something that my career has always shown me, it’s Bill’s philosophy, and it’s what my mother always did. I’m proud we have made hearing health a priority for women globally because, in turn, they will make it a priority for their families and their communities. Sometimes, it starts with one person, but it takes all of us to make a lasting difference for the next generation. Women have a way of changing the world!

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