Human Rights Defender of the Month: Dibabe Bacha

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.

 

“Disabled women face several challenges. First, socially, they’re discriminated against because of the enduring negative attitude towards people with disabilities (PWDs). This extends to state institutions where PWDs are perceived as receivers of charity and not like any other people entitled to necessary social services from the state or full protection of the law,” she says

Today, EWDNA represents over 10000 women with various disabilities across Ethiopia, providing a whole range of services.

“First, we offer psycho-social support, mainly group and individual counselling to make sure women have the confidence to leave their homes. We also provide vocational training, so women with disabilities can make their own living. We raise awareness of living with a disability and last, we lobby the government to increase the legal protection for women with disabilities as well as increase accessible infrastructure,”

 

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. 

“For example, if a woman with a visual impairment is raped, they are still required to provide witnesses. This is a challenge bordering on abuse. The criminal laws need to be amended,”

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.   

See more HRDs of the Month

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Dibabe Bacha

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.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Mariam Nakibuuka

On 26th July 2021, Mariam Nakibuuka, 35, breathed her last at Uganda’s Kampala hospital, succumbing to the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic. Mariam joined DefendDefenders as an intern in 2015, and rose through the ranks from being a fellow, to a Protection Assistant, and finally to a Senior Protection Associate, at the time of her death.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ana Taban

Ana Taban, which means ‘I am Tired’ in Arabic, was established in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya out of frustration of South Sudanese artists with several issues related to the civil war in the country. This was after another conflict broke out at the Presidential Palace in Juba a few months after the signing of a peace deal.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Jaqueline Mutere

Jaqueline Mutere’s motivation to establish Grace Agenda was a response to the post-election sexual violence of 2007 and 2008 in Kenya. Additionally, as a survivor of sexual violence which resulted into conception of a child, and following the experience of other survivors, Jaqueline identified the need to form an organisation that advocates for reparations for survivors of sexual violence.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ocen Ivan Kenneth

Ocen Ivan Kenneth is a Program Director at Foundation for Development and Relief Africa (FIDRA), with more than 10 years’ experience working in the human rights field. Ivan’s ambitions for change focus on building inner peace, defending human rights and empowering local communities using theatre and storytelling. He creates a space where people from the community share their personal stories of trauma and resilience as well as identify mechanisms of healing.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Sandra Aceng

Sandra Aceng is an outspoken and energetic woman human rights defender (WHRD). She is a gender and ICT researcher and policy analyst for Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) where she coordinates the Women ICT Advocacy Group, advocating for internet access for all. In addition, she writes on various platforms such as Global Voices, Freedom House, and Impakter Magazine. Her regular contributions to Wikimedia Uganda often focus on profiling WHRDs, female politicians, and journalists.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Chantal Mutamuriza

Chantal Mutamuriza does not wait for problems to be solved. When the Burundian woman human rights defender (WHRD) encounters a problem, she will seek a solution there and then. When hundreds of thousands Burundians had to flee from political unrest in 2015, many of them were stranded in refugee camps with little economic opportunity or access to education. In her problem-solving spirit, Chantal felt compelled to act: she quit her job to put her skills and network to use and founded the NGO Light For All.

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