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Meaza Ashenafi

Adviser, Gender and Women’s Rights, Capacity Development Division, UNECA

Meaza Ashenafi currently serves as an adviser on gender and women’s rights in the Capacity Development Division of UNECA. She is a very active attorney who advocates for the legal protection of women, the promotion of human rights and financial mediation in favor of women. In her native Ethiopia, she served as a High Court judge. As human rights adviser to the Ethiopian Constitution Commission which drafted the current Ethiopian constitution, she ensured the protection of the rights of women and children. Meaza is the founder and first Executive Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), which provided legal aid to poor women and was a pioneer in the defense, protection and advocacy on the rights of women. EWLA successfully defended a 14 year old girl accused of killing a man who had abducted and raped her. In 2014 this story and the work of EWLA was told in a highly acclaimed movie entitled “Difret” produced by Zersenay Berhane Mehari. Meaza is the chair of the Board and one of the founders of Enat Bank, the first women’s bank in Ethiopia. She has received numerous awards for philanthropy and leadership, including the African Leadership Prize; and is an active member of several women’s rights advocacy organizations.