Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sundance 2014 Vindicates Ethiopia's Leading Women's Rights Advocate

Meaza Ashenafi, whose civic organization EWELA (Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Association) has been incapacitated by TPLF mafia, is vindicated at 2014's Sundance International Film Festival with a film entitled Difret which becomes Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic. Difret ( which literally means in Amharic courage) is a film based on a true story and revolves around an Ethiopian young girl who was abducted for forced marriage and killed her husband in self-defense and then represented by a lawyer in this case Meaza Ahenafi. Born of an illiterate mother and a civil servant father in Assosa,a small town near the Sudan border, she received her LLB degree from Addis Ababa University and was qualified as a lawyer in 1986. Meaza established Ethiopia's leading women's legal aid, education and policy-reform organization in 1995
- EWLA (the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association). EWLA was a pioneer in charge for women's rights across the political spectrum and across the nation. In 2003, Meaza was awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership by the Hunger Project, based in New York, in the United States. She was also a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for her advocacy on behalf of women. In 2008 she received the International Women of Courage Award for Ethiopia from the US government. EWLA has championed in women's rights in the areas of domestic violence, sexual abuse, the family, economic and land rights. Against this background, the TPLF-led government of Ethiopia with its draconian civil societies and charities proclamation of 2009 which prohibits organizations receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad from carrying out human rights and governance work, has frozen EWLA's bank account and slashed its budgets, staff, and operation. Here's the hypocrisy and double standard of TPLF, its affiliate Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, according to Human Rights Watch, lacks independence and is not yet compliant with the Paris Principles, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1993 and which promote the independence of national human rights institutions. Anyway, Meaza and her brainchild organization EWLA has been vindicated and their commitment to betterment of women's right in Ethiopia have paid off. Thanks Sundance and  hats off to Meaza, EWLA and all those who involved and participated in Difret film.

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