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Literacy is a fundamental right

The Partner Organisation of Abilis in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA), offers peer support, different kinds of training, and human rights awareness to women with disabilities.

EWDNA has, for example, organized a literacy course for women with disabilities who have not had opportunities to go to school or participate in any activity outside their homes before. Their seclusion is the consequence of the negative attitudes of their parents towards disability, including patronizing over-worrying and lack of awareness of the possibilities for persons with disabilities. The literacy course changed the lives of the participants because many of them, for the very first time, met other women with disabilities. One of the participants was Selamawit who has a physical disability. She was very motivated to learn and received some of the best grades of the course. However, participation was not a given for Selamawit: her family tried to prevent her from participating. All her sisters were educated and employed. The family wanted to keep Selamawit at home to look after the children of her siblings.

After the course, Selamawit knew how to read and write. She dreamed of her own future for the first time in her life. She wanted to establish a small kiosk and gain income of her own. There is still a lot to do to achieve this dream, because the attitudes of her family have not changed. That is why a social worker from EWDNA acts as an important mediator who aims to change the family’s attitudes to be more positive so that they would support Selamawit’s independence, as they have done with her siblings.

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