September 25, 2012 | Contribution by
Meaza Ashenafi is the Founder of Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and the Board Chairperson of Enat Bank
In Africa, many countries are slowly taking steps to enshrine into law basic rights for women. One of the high-profile activists in this battle is Meaza Ashenafi, who helped found the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association in 1995 -- which led the charge for women's rights in the areas of domestic violence, sexual abuse, family, economic, and land rights -- and helped draft the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution, which now gives a broad range of political, social, legal, and economic rights to women. She's also Board Chairperson of Enat Bank, which was formed with a mission of empowering women in business. We recently spoke with her about how Ethiopia is doing on overhauling rights for women. She stresses the link between legal rights and women's economic opportunities, how Ethiopia was able to amend its Family Law, and why a multiplicity of laws (customary, religious, and statutory) still need to be harmonized to meet international standards set by the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (considered an "international bill of rights for women").
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