Meaza Ashenafi, born in 1965, was a high court judge in Ethiopia between 1989 and 1992. In 1993 she became a legal advisor to the Ethiopian Constitution Commission. In 1995, she participated in founding the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) and became its executive directress. Through her work as a lawyer she represented thousands of women clients in courts. She is dedicated to vocalizing the needs of misfortunate women under the social and economic structures. She utilizes her extensive legal background to lobby for the amendment of the constitutional laws against women in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the largest country in the Horn of Africa in terms of population and second largest in terms of size. The infrastructure is extremely poor, particularly in rural areas. Ethiopian society remains highly patriarchal against women’s participation in most spheres and in obvious violation of the provisions of the national constitution. From government oppression to outright violence, civil society organizations face extreme challenges in their work. Furthermore, the economic situation does not lend itself to women’s civil participation. Women in Ethiopia do not play a significant role in the economy and have limited access to its benefits. As a protest, Meaza is dedicated to achieving social justice and equality for Ethiopian women. Her contribution is centered on the promotion and protection of their political and social rights, as she directs attention to the cultural and attitudinal problems related to gender in a conservative society. As a member of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) Meaza sent a proposal to the House of Peoples Representatives and Regional Councils (HPRRC) requesting the amendment of certain laws in the constitution in light of the UN proclaimed human rights. Meaza’s prioritized mission is the empowerment of women and the lifting of injustice that the laws have caused. Opposed to the discrimination against women in the 1960s Family Law, she led a campaign that eventually resulted in its modification in 2000. She participated in drafting the Ethiopian Constitution, which now gives women a broad range of political, social, legal and economic rights.
Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) Ethiopian Constitution Commission of the Interim Government (ECCIG)