Inspiring Habesha Women – Yetnebersh Negussie

Inspiring Habesha Women 

Yetnebersh Nigussie 

Ethiopia is considered to be the poorest country in the world, when a country encounters poverty it’s quite a huge challenge for the citizens, especially women. Not only poverty but certain socio-cultural problems could distract women from achieving their goals, and being prone to inferiority in society, and face certain abuse. 

 However, several women overcome all these challenges and achieve their goals, not only to themselves but also to become inspirations, role models to others. They contribute to their country and aim to motivate other women who think that they can’t overcome poverty.  

One of the most inspiring women who has been an inspiration not only but overcoming the challenges of being a woman but also a Women that helped the disabled community and motivated them and showed them that they can live an ordinary life like others and also fought for the equalities of the disabled, she also created awareness on inclusion. 

Yetnebersh Nigussie is a 35-year-old Ethiopian lawyer and an outstanding advocate for the rights enshrined in the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD). Yetnebersh is a visionary woman who works to empower people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups. Yetnebersh, who went blind at the age of five, says being blind has become a blessing in disguise. She worked extensively in raising support for inclusive growth and all citizens’ rights after graduating from law school. 

Early Life and Career  

Yetnebersh was born blind and raised in rural Ethiopia, where she only avoided an early marriage because she was deemed unfit for marriage by the group. She graduated from Addis Ababa University with a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s degree in social work after overcoming social and cultural barriers. 

She is also a student at Addis Ababa University, where she is pursuing an Executive Master’s in Managing Peace and Security in Africa. Yetnebersh became the inspiring, authentic role model she is today as a result of her personal experiences, work, and education.

Striving for an Inclusive society 

Yetnebersh founded the Female Students Association and chaired the Ethiopian Association of the Blind’s women’s wing while at university. She co-founded and helped form the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development (ECDD), which is now a guiding force behind Ethiopia’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Persons with disabilities account for more than half of the staff. ECDD became a driving force for inclusion in Ethiopia, changing the country’s building code to ensure that all new buildings are open to people with disabilities, among other achievements. 

Furthermore, Yetnebersh was instrumental in Ethiopia’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified in 2009 and provides a solid legal foundation for inclusion in the country. 

Her engagement for society, however, does not stop at the level of policy. She has also started a social business by opening an inclusive school named ‘Yetnebersh Academy’ for underprivileged children in Addis Ababa. The school offers an inclusive, child-friendly and accessible environment to 190 children. 

Achievements and Award 

The AMANITARE prize, which she won in South Africa in 2003 for her intervention in supporting the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, is one of her outstanding awards for her work. In 2011, she was also honored with the TIAW World of Difference award in Washington, DC. 

Personal Motivation  

Through her tireless efforts she has changed perceptions of countless individuals on disability with the compelling message: “Focus on the person, not the disability. We have one disability, but 99 abilities to build on!” Today, Yetnebersh’s ambition is to fight against the exclusion of 15% of the world’s population who have a disability. She wants to create inclusive conditions for future generations in developing countries and beyond by connecting national realities with international frameworks.  

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