The Power of Togetherness - Yetnebersh Nigussie at ICSW

Director for Advocacy and Human Rights at Light for the World, Yetnebersh Nigussie, has been asked to deliver a keynote speech at the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) in Belgrade. The event theme is "The Power of Togetherness."
Yetnebersh portrait with yellow background

The International Civil Society Week (ICSW) is a global gathering of civil society leaders and activists focusing on the most pressing issues of our time while coming up with shared solutions. The overarching goal of this gathering is to strengthen civil society and citizen action to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.

Our very own Yetnebersh Nigussie (Director for Advocacy and Human Rights at Light for the World) will deliver a keynote speech during the opening ceremony of this event.

Event Principles:

  • Inclusion: making sure that people affected by our work are represented in our events
  • Equality: reflecting gender equality and non-discrimination in our panels
  • Sustainability: being environmentally conscious and minimizing harm to the planet
  • Transparency: sharing our successes and failures so that we contribute to a learning environment
  • Diversity: bringing together diverse stakeholders to discuss complex problems
  • Participation: providing space for event attendees to engage in meaningful dialogue


Read for yourself an exerpt from Yetnebersh's keynote speech below:

I want to emphasize the universality and indivisibility of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because this is also absolutely in tune with the theme of this week of “The Power of Togetherness”. 

In Ethiopia, we have a proverb which is “The eyes cry when the nose is hurt.” This expression makes me think how nature is better organized to do advocacy when something is not right in a certain part of the body. We as human beings and societies must act likewise. When the rights of women in a given society are violated, it signals for the violation of the rights of those with disabilities or those with a migrant background or those at risk due to age, sexual orientation or any other status.

As clearly stipulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, “Injustice somewhere is a threat for justice everywhere!” Thus, allowing any form of discrimination against any member of the society in any part of the world contributes to the darkening of the fate of our future generations to live a better and dignified life. It is with this strong belief that I am here to call for togetherness, unity and uncontested solidarity in the fight against inequality and injustice. 

Vibrant civil societies deeply entrenched in grassroots communities contribute to peaceful dialogue, meaningful participation, and overall accountability. As civil societies, this is the time when we need to stand together as close as possible and condemn any action or omission threatening diversity, inclusion, and voices of citizens in all parts of the world. 

Let us be more vigilant than ever, as the roads to come may be more dangerous than those we took as human rights defenders and activists before. With the understanding that new problems require new solutions, let us open spaces for everyone to come and contribute for a better inclusive future we want to see in 2030 and beyond. 

Together, let us deconstruct walls and build bridges; Let us remove the weeds of hostility and plant the seeds of human dignity. We have the responsibility that each and everyone in this world feels the power of togetherness and takes bold actions to leave no one behind." 


Yetnebersh is a human rights activist who has dedicated her life to the improvement of living conditions for all regardless of their age, gender and disability. Ms. Nigussie believes “leaving no one behind” requires increased civil society participation and solidarity to demand a better future for all.

Visit the live page of the conference to see Yetnebersh in action.


*Update: April 12th, 2019*

Yetnebersh's Keynote address at the opening ceremony was well received. Below are some snapshots of the coverage of her talk via social media:

Yetnebersh Nigussie: Be the Light for the World

Keynote address by Yetnebersh Nigussie, Director for advocacy and human rights, Light for the World

Yetnebersh Nigussie is a human rights activist dedicating her life for the improvement of living conditions of persons regardless of their age, gender, disability, etc. Born and raised in rural Ethiopia, Ms. Nigussie describes blindness as her opportunity for entering the path of education by escaping early marriage widely exercised in her village and in the country.

Below are some highlights from her speech

  • We need to democratize democracy, liberate liberty and we need to free freedom
  • As civil society, we need to be the light for the world
  • As civil society activist, we are responsible to be the light for the world and make sure we show the invisible one, we hear the unheard ones
  • Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much
  • We cannot solely rely on the government, we must act together
  • We must learn what is working elsewhere
  • This is the time we need to stand together of every action threatening diversity and inclusion.

-from Civicus website.