The evening of October 25th held the stories of Ethiopian women of courage, discipline, perseverance and vision as their presence graced the halls and stage of Sheraton Addis in celebration of AWiB’s 2015 Women of Excellence Awards & Gala. All accomplished leaders in their respective fields and endeavors.
The 2015 Woman of Excellence title though went to Maria Munir – co-founder and Executive Director of the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD). As a women’s rights activist, Maria has spent a majority of her life advocating for the protection of Ethiopian women from all forms of violence through her work with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) and by providing a safe house and sanctuary for abused and battered women at AWSAD. The enormity of her work and contribution is evidenced in the number of female victims of violence that have not only found a safe haven at AWSAD post-violence but have been able to transform their lives from victim-hood to survival. More on Maria here.
I often feel that work done advocating for women’s rights is mostly a thankless job except, I imagine, for the gratitude shown by survivors of violence to those who advocate on their behalf. I say this because, most people do not think that violence against women or gender based violence could happen to them or those they know. Or the belief that gender inequality, which is the base for VAW and GBV, cannot be reversed therefore the advocacy an “unnecessary” and wasted loud effort. However, it is to those like Maria Munir and other Ethiopian women and some men to whom we owe a lot of gratitude for it is their perseverance and contributions that have secured many rights for women in Ethiopia. i.e equal constitutional rights; amendments to the civil, criminal and family codes of Ethiopia; increasing awareness on GBV and VAW, etc.
Therefore, I’m thrilled that the AWiB platform has facilitated for others who know little of AWSAD’s work to know more about the issues it deals with, the woman behind the organization, and the critical service it offers to victims of violence in its humble setting.
To find out more about AWSAD’s impact, read more here.
Congratulations to Maria Munir and AWSAD.
Love & Light