Right Livelihood Award for Yetnebersh Nigussie

Our Ethiopian colleague receives prestigious award
Photo: Light for the World's Senior Inclusion Advisor, Yetnebersh Nigussie, has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award 2017. Credit: Studio Casagrande

Yetnebersh Nigussie, Light for the World’s Senior Inclusion Advisor, has today been awarded the Right Livelihood Award 2017, which is widely referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. She was awarded “for her inspiring work promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities allowing them to realise their full potential and changing mind-sets in our societies."

Yetnebersh Nigussie said:  “It is an absolute honour to receive the prestigious Right Livelihood Award and become a Laureate. The recognition provides welcome fuel to the disability and development community’s ongoing call for inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in all spheres of life. The Award will be a driving force for continuing my and Light for the World’s endeavour to reach our goal of equal opportunities for all and an inclusive society with every child, including those with disabilities, being educated. It also sends the strong signal that women with disabilities are significant contributors to development and aid.”

Dedicated to overcoming inequality for everyone, everywhere

Yetnebersh Nigussie is a 35 year old lawyer from Ethiopia. She is a passionate advocate for the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

Yetnebersh was born and raised in rural Ethiopia and lost her eye sight at the age of five. She escaped early marriage by being considered not suitable due to her disability. Her mother insisted that she get an education instead. 

Yetnebersh Nigussie said about her life: “Like many people from developing countries, I became blind at the age of five due to preventable causes.  Growing up blind and female in rural Ethiopia has not been without challenges; but in the end proved to be an opportunity by giving me the chance to be educated. “

After overcoming social and institutional barriers, she graduated from Addis Ababa University securing her first degree in Law and later finishing her Master’s degree in Social Work. In 2005, Yetnebersh co-founded the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development (ECDD) with the goal to create an inclusive society for people with disabilities. From 2011 to 2015, she was Director of ECDD and worked closely as a project partner with Light for the World. Currently, Yetnebersh leads the Disability Rights and Advocacy department as Senior Inclusion Advisor at Light for the World. 

One of four deserving Laureates 

Three other Right Livelihood Award Laureates for 2017 were also announced today, including the human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves (India) and the investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan). This years’ honorary award goes to the American lawyer Robert Bilott.