24 June 2021

Media Release

The World Blind Union has announced the outcome of its 10th General Assembly, first ever global accessible online participatory process to elect its new Table Officers for the coming four years (2021-2025).

280 WBU delegates have elected Martine Abel-Williamson as the new President of the World Blind Union. 

Blind Citizens NZ extends its heartfelt congratulations to Ms Martine Abel-Williamson, Global President of World Blind Union.

For the past 20 plus years, Martine has held a myriad of roles here in New Zealand and in the international arena. The in-depth knowledge and skills Martine brings to this global position is immense. 

Martine is in no doubt about the expectations there will as WBU President. She says “the timing is amazing… I am so honoured to be able to hold this position on behalf of the 253 million blind and low vision people from around the world. The support of my peers to take on this role is great. I believe they are really saying one doesn’t have to live in a large, wealthy country to make a difference. New Zealand has shown leadership during the COVID-19 Pandemic over the past year and a half. Together with my fellow officers, I will continue to prioritise the wellbeing of blind people across the world. I’m surrounded by a great team and our work for the WBU’s new quadrennium has just begun.”

From 2007 to 2017, Martine represented Blind Citizens NZ as one of New Zealand’s two country delegates at both regional and global WBU events. During that time, and subsequently as WBU’s Global Treasurer, she has demonstrated her commitment to making a blind bit of difference for all blind, deafblind, low vision and vision impaired people across the world.

“Martine’s commitment towards addressing the needs of blind people around the world has been evident for well over 10 years, and Blind Citizens NZ is pleased to support her efforts”, says Dr Jonathan Godfrey, National President Blind Citizens NZ. He went on to say “I am sure she will do New Zealand proud, and on behalf of our blind community of New Zealanders, congratulations Martine!”

An invitation for Martine to officiate at World Blind Union’s General Assembly proceedings in Spain, in person on 28 June remain an option. Achieving an MIQ space for her return is the challenge she now has.

About Blind Citizens NZ

Founded in 1945, the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc (Blind Citizens NZ) is a disabled people’s organisation (DPO), with branches and networks across the country. We are New Zealand’s leading blindness consumer organisation and one of the country’s largest organisations of disabled consumers. Our members are blind, deafblind, low vision and vision-impaired (hereafter referred to as blind). 

Blind Citizens NZ exists to give voice to the aspirations and lived experiences of blind, deafblind, low vision and vision-impaired people living in New Zealand. We aim to achieve this by heightening awareness of our rights and to remove the barriers that negate our ability to live in an accessible, equitable and inclusive society. 

About World Blind Union

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the internationally recognized organization, representing the 253 million blind, vision impaired and low vision people in 190-member countries. The voice of the blind, WBU speaks to governments and international bodies on issues concerning blindness and low vision in conjunction with members. 

WBU brings together all the major national and international organisations of blind people and organisations that provide services to blind to work on the issues affecting the quality of life for blind people. Globally, WBU is divided into six regions, with each region. Each region has its own President and volunteer executive team.

Contact details

Martine Abel-Williamson
021 411 042

Jonathan Godfrey
029 538 9814