The two-day long training which took place from February 10 to 12, 2022 in Adama aimed at equipping participants with the required skills and knowledge to integrate the rights of persons with disability and of older persons into the diverse works of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to ensure impactful change. 

The number of persons with disabilities in Ethiopia is estimated to be at 17.6% of the total population. One of the advocacy priorities for the Department is the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa which would further consolidate the small steps gained by ratifying the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Marrakesh Treaty (or Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled). 

The training provides an overview of the international and regional frameworks and indicates the collaborative roles that other thematic functions can play in further advancing disability rights and the rights of older persons, including through the adoption of a draft Consolidated Disability Rights Law currently under discussion at national level. 

Selamawit Girmay, Child Rights Coordinator, Women’s & Children’s Rights Department, EHRC

It was also recalled at the training that making the Commission fully accessible to persons with disability was one of the recommendations from the comprehensive “disability audit” conducted in 2021. 

The interactive training was a gathering point of 38 staff from the headquarters and five branch offices of the Commission. Upon return to their departments, ambassadors have the responsibility of advocacy and representation within their respective departments. Speaking of her own experience of the training, Selamawit Girmay, Child Rights Coordinator at the Women and Children’s Rights Department, said that “one of the first steps she will take will be to integrate disability rights and rights of older persons issues in the Gender Mainstreaming, Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy and the Child Rights Policy which EHRC is currently developing.”

Belain Gebremedhin, Director, Disability Rights and Rights of Older Persons Department, EHRC

Belain Gebremedhin underscored the Commission’s promotion and protection role in this regard by saying “EHRC aims at becoming a center of excellence in terms of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disability and older persons and we will rely heavily on our departmental ambassadors to achieve that goal”. Reaffirming the Department’s commitment, she added, “The Department will continue to play a supportive role to its ambassadors along with its advocacy and capacity building work to raise the profile of and focus on persons with disability and older persons across and beyond the Commission”.