International Women’s Day 2017

Posted by Natacha Soto on Wednesday 8th March 2017

The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day. This day commemorates and recognises the integral role women play in all aspects of society, and the importance of breaking down social and cultural barriers which inhibit women from fully participating in all areas of life.

Today we celebrate the women who have achieved great feats, who have worked tirelessly to eliminate the obstacles faced not only by themselves but by women and girls around the world. 

We celebrate the women who have shown perseverance and resilience in the face of opposition, discrimination and oppression.

We celebrate the women who have created change and paved the way for women and girls after them, and who have made sacrifices so future generations may face greater opportunities and qualities of life than they did.

Here at Ethiopiaid we are also celebrating our incredible partners who work every day to ensure the women and girls of Ethiopia live a life of dignity and opportunity, free from the harms of traditional practices and cultural constraints.


Former High Court Judge Maria Munir co-founded the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD).  AWSAD began its work in 2003, after Maria and a small group of her fellow lawyers had been providing female survivors of gender-based violence with a pro bono legal advice service to bring their perpetrators to justice.  They recognised however that once women had received legal support, they still worried about how to feed and provide shelter for themselves and their children.  As a widow, Maria had a particular understanding of the difficulties of being a single mother. 

In response, AWSAD was established providing a holistic service to help vulnerable women to recover and rebuild their lives – alongside legal advice, this included residency at a safe house, food, medical care and skills training for income generation. The organisation runs three safe houses across Addis Ababa for women and girls providing shelter, food, counselling, medical services and legal assistance. Through prevention, rehabilitation and economic empowerment the organisation addresses gender-based violence.

Maria has been nationally recognised for providing legal aid to more than 8,000 women. She has travelled widely to promote women’s rights; encouraged participation of women in elections; advocated for the revision of the family and penal code and pension regulation; provided paralegal training across Ethiopia.









Photo credit: Womankind Worldwide

Dr Catherine Hamlin has been a pioneer of women’s maternal health in Ethiopia for over 40 years since her and her late husband, Reg Hamlin, founded the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia organisation in 1974. Since then, Catherine has also gone on to found the Hamlin College of Midwives and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Dr Catherine’s organisation treats over 3000 obstetric fistula patients each year between the main hospital in Addis Ababa and five other regional hospitals. The life’s work of Dr Catherine Hamlin has made an insurmountable difference to countless thousands of women in Ethiopia, and today we celebrate her.


Photo credit: Ethiopiaid UK


Today we also celebrate the sisterhood. The women in our lives who have taught, nurtured and inspired us and who we stand side-by-side with in the pursuit of gender equality around the world.


If you would like to help us continue our support of these incredible organisations please donate here.

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