Dibabe Bacha is a trailblazer on many fronts. Visually impaired, but unequivocally impassioned for human rights, she has devoted herself to defending and protecting human rights in her native Ethiopia, especially for women with disabilities.
10 years ago, Dibaba founded the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA), with a primary aim of securing social recognition and legal protection for women with disabilities in Ethiopia.
Today, EWDNA represents over 10000 women with various disabilities across Ethiopia, providing a whole range of services.
Through sustained advocacy, EWDNA managed to get the Ethiopian government to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Still, Dibabe says a lot remains to be done, especially regarding developing a legal regime that is sensitive to the unique plight of women with disabilities.
With COVID19 and the associated countrywide lockdowns, Dibabe says the challenges for women with disabilities have been exacerbated.
“Women with disabilities survive on informal economic activities like selling lotteries, soaps, and candles in churches. But when lockdowns were imposed, markets, schools and churches closed, including other small businesses, which affected their members economically,” she explains.
For Ethiopian women with disabilities, this challenge was worsened by the ongoing conflict in Tigray, which has spilled over to other parts of the country. Dibabe says because of their various handicaps, PWDs often fall victims in large numbers to conflicts because they cannot escape as easily and swiftly as their able-bodied counterparts.
Still, Dibabe remains optimistic that with constant engagement and advocacy, life will keep getting better. “Today is better than yesterday,” she says.