Interview with a Women's Rights Activist: Dibabe Bacha

Hannah Little | Feb 08, 2019
Pg. 12 Dibabe

Dibabe Bacha is a blind woman, and the general manager of the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA) – an organisation fighting for accessibility and legal protection for disabled women across Ethiopia. In spite of a ten-year struggle to be recognised by the Ethiopian Government, EWDNA has been hugely successful in increasing awareness and laws protecting women with disabilities.

Hi Dibabe! Could you tell us about EWDNA’s work?

EWDNA represents more than 3,500 women with disabilities across all of Ethiopia. Firstly, we offer psycho-social support, mainly group and individual counselling to make sure women have the confidence to leave their homes. We provide vocational training, so women with disabilities can make their own living. We also provide scholarships so women can attend school. We raise awareness of living with a disability and lastly we lobby the government to increase the legal protection for women with disabilities as well as increasing accessible infrastructure

What are the biggest achievements of EWDNA so far?

I have been working here for 10 years now, there is almost too many to mention! But we have pushed the government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities (CRPD), it has even become an integrated part of Ethiopian law. And of course all the women who no longer hide in their houses, who go out and live a fulfilled life, some have even gone on to graduate from college.

What have you got your sights set on next?

Next, I hope we can do something about accessibility. There is no accessible infrastructure. There are no sign language translators anywhere. There is no information or documentation in braille anywhere. EWDNA wants to change this!

How do you feel about your recent partnership with Womankind Worldwide?

We have found that in Ethiopia, people don’t really want to work with women, and especially not women with disabilities. Womankind helps us to bring global awareness for women with disabilities, so I think we will change the life of women with disabilities together.

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Thank you to all of our supporters who donated during the 2018 Big Give Christmas Challenge. Over £40,000 was raised to fund a project titled ‘Empowering Women with Disabilities in Addis Ababa’. The project will be run in partnership with EWDNA and is due to launch in April, 2019.

This article first appeared in our Spring Newsletter. For exciting updates from partners and projects across our five focus countries, read our latest newsletter here.

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