ETHIOPIAN BLIND LAWYER WINS NOBEL PRIZE AWARD IN SWEDEN
Yetnebersh Nigussie is a blind Ethiopian lawyer who was recently named a joint winner of the 2017 Right Livelihood Award, also known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize.
The 35-year-old lawyer was honoured for her inspiring work in promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. She was awarded 3 million Swedish crowns ($374,000) which will be shared among the three joint winners.
According to her,
“With this award comes international recognition, but with recognition comes responsibility. You cannot sleep once you are recognised”. Women with disabilities in Ethiopia face multiple layers of discrimination. My role is to link the two communities, of disabled and able-bodied women, that have faced historical discrimination.”
Nigussie co-founded the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development, a driving force for inclusion, and is now an adviser for Light for the World, an international organisation working to reduce preventable blindness. She lost her sight after contracting meningitis as a baby but said she was lucky to be educated at a special primary school for blind people run by nuns.
“We didn’t know that we would face isolation and segregation, as we were all blind. It was mixed, boys and girls, but all the women were leaders so for me, women were leaders. I didn’t understand until much later that women were considered to be of lower rank in society,” she says.
Her story changed at the age of 12, when she joined a mainstream school for the first time. She reveals,
“I had no friends for six months. Everyone played in the playground and no one noticed me. I was different. But I scored the best grades in school, and then everyone wanted to be my friend so I could help them. I became popular and I thought: ‘If I can excel, if I can bring about my own change, I can help others.’’
December 16, 2017
December 14, 2017