Meaza Ashenafi – Ethiopia

Linked with The Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association EWLA.

See also the WSF World Social Forum 2007, Kenya.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “My goal is to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women and to ensure equal opportunities for women in education, employment and public spheres”.

She says also: “The position of women (in Ethiopia) is very difficult – economically, politically and socially … They have no voice, they have no economic power, they have no social power, and they are not organised. They cannot put pressure on the government … Uganda is a good place, Tanzania is much better than us, South Africa is much better”. (full text).

Read: BBC, Ethiopia: Revenge of the abducted bride.

Read: Should Women Forge Armed Struggle Against Abduction!? By Selamawit Seyoum.

Read: Advocacy for Legal Reform for Safe Abortion.

Read: Interview with peacewomen.

Meaza Ashenafi - Ethiopia.jpg

Meaza Ashenafi – Ethiopia

She works for the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association EWLA,
and for the Ethiopian Constitution Commission of the Interim Government (ECCIG).

Listen to NPR-audio: ‘Fighting for Women’s Rights in Africa‘.

And she says: “There is no specific law talking about domestic violence, so we need laws there; there is no law on workplace sexual harassment. Also, we have a law on affirmative action. There is a provision under the constitution which says that women are entitled to affirmative action, but there are gaps in the law itself …

… The issue of women’s land rights is a key issue. In the constitution, women are guaranteed the right to land, but this is not happening in practice. Almost in all regions, women do not have any access to land whatsoever. They don’t have the right to inherit, and the only option is to get married and have a husband. But when the husband dies, they are also kicked off their land. We also want to see more women participate in the 2005 election, not only as voters but also as candidates. We want to see the election law amended to see a critical number of female candidates, because that is what they do in Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda”. (full text).

See: Web and Office of Equality Now.org: same en français, same en espanol, same in arabic, Contact of Africa-Office: Equality Now Africa Regional Office, P.O. Box 2018, KHN, Nairobi, Kenya, to write online.

Meaza Ashenafi, born in 1965, was a high court judge in Ethiopia between 1989 and 1992. In 1993 she became a legal advisor to the Ethiopian Constitution Commission. In 1995, she participated in founding the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) and became its executive directress. Through her work as a lawyer she represented thousands of women clients in courts. She is dedicated to vocalizing the needs of misfortunate women under the social and economic structures. She utilizes her extensive legal background to lobby for the amendment of the constitutional laws against women in Ethiopia.Meaza Ashenafi was born in 1965 in Asossa, a small town in Ethiopia on the border with the Sudan. Ethiopia is the largest country in the Horn of Africa by population and is the second largest by size. The infrastructure is poor, particularly in rural areas. Ethiopian society remains highly patriarchal and hostile against women?s empowerment in most spheres, in obvious violation of the provisions of the national constitution. From government oppression to outright violence, civil society organizations face extreme challenges in their social work. Furthermore, the economic situation does not lend itself to women’s participation. Women in Ethiopia do not play a significant role in the country?s economy and have limited access to its benefits.

Meaza’s mother supported her till she completed her education. In 1986, she became the only woman in the year to graduate from Addis Ababa University with an LLB degree. She then worked as a high court judge between the years 1989 and 1992. In 1993 she became a legal advisor to the Ethiopian Constitution Commission of the Interim Government, which drafted the country’s first constitution after many years of civil war. In that position, she was able to effectively advocate women’s and children?s needs, which were ultimately incorporated into the Constitution. In 1995, she helped found the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) and became its Executive Director.

Meaza is dedicated to advance social justice and equality for women in Ethiopia. Her contribution is centered on the promotion and protection of their political and social rights, as she draws attention to the cultural problems related to gender. She began her work on human rights as early as 1993. As a member of EWLA Meaza proposed to the House of Peoples Representatives and Regional Councils the amendment of some laws in the constitution to correspond to the UN Human Rights Convention. Meaza’s prior mission is the empowerment of women and the eradication of legal injustice. Opposed to the discrimination against women in the 1960 Family Law, she led a campaign for the modification of some items, which were eventually amended in 2000.

She participated in drafting the Ethiopian Constitution, which now gives a broad range of political, social, legal and economic rights to women. Meaza’s outstanding efforts helped build up an equitable Ethiopian society. The country now benefits from the capacities of thousands of women who, due to the social and structural changes over the last 10 years, became full participants in societal activities. Ethiopian women owe much to Meaza. The fundamental changes she effectuated have helped Ethiopian women to build up better careers and to play a significant role in the welfare of the society.

In 2004, more than ten years after the adoption of new laws on gender equality, Meaza is still pushing for full enforcement of the laws; so far the integration of gender perspective into public expenditures is still far below the target. In order to support the transition from government policy commitments to actual investment in women and their empowerment, the EWLA has budgeted for an extensive research and advocacy project that will be accomplished in 2006. Meaza stands as a role model for young women across Ethiopia in being a vocal member of civil society and in promoting the role of women’s social and economic participation. (Read all on 1000peacewomen 2005).

Read: Appraisal.

Her Bio.

links:

The hunger project, and also this page;

The Africa Prize for Leadership;

Sustainable Development, download reports;

tadias online;

tigrai.org;

Strengthening Governance;

(UN) PRESS CONFERENCE ON DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AGAINST WOMEN (2000);

EWLA on the Human Rights databank hri.

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