The #GirlsTakeover initiative, designed by Plan International Ethiopia, takes place in the days leading up to October 11, marking the International Day of the Girl Child, and aims to raise awareness about the challenges girls and young women face by pairing them with leaders of institutions across the country with various mandates to be mentors to the girls, assuming the leader’s role for a day. On the invitation of Plan International Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele took part in this experience-sharing programme on October 10, 2023 by hosting Hana Asrat, a final-year law student at Bahir Dar University and guiding her through various day-to-day activities of his function.
Following a brief tour of EHRC and a meet and greet with some of its leadership team, Hana Asrat had an introductory session with the Chief Commissioner, which provided a brief overview of the Commission’s establishment and mandate, the appointment of a Chief Commissioner, and his powers and duties. In addition, she took part in two programming meetings scheduled on the Chief Commission’s calendar for the day. The session with the Commission’s Women and Children’s Rights Department aimed to provide an insight into the Commission’s work in this thematic area and was also an occasion to welcome Commissioner Rigbe Gebrehawaria into her new role as Commissioner for Women and Children’s Rights in addition to her continuing function as Commissioner for the Rights of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). The delegates from Plan International Ethiopia and Hana also had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Commission’s Media and Communications Department by taking part in a briefing on the progress of the 3rd Edition of the EHRC Annual Human Rights Film Festival preparations.
The event having coincided with the International Mental Health Awareness Day, marked on October 10 each year, Commissioner Rigbe also took the opportunity to recall the findings of EHRC’s investigation work, which indicate that a lack of awareness about intellectual disability and mental health issues has particularly devastating consequences during conflict by making persons with intellectual disability and mental health issues targets of all parties in a conflict.
Hana Asrat also shared her experiences on the day’s events, gave insightful feedback on the briefings she received, and made a presentation on the challenges as a female law student to members of the Commission’s leadership. Hana, 22, who has a particular interest in children’s and young women’s rights and diplomacy, also gave a presentation on the topic of Girls in Crisis during her time as Chief Commissioner.
Recalling EHRC’s mandate to raise public awareness about human rights and some of the Commission’s activities in this regard, including its Annual High School Moot Court Competition, where for three years in a row the best orator winners were all girls, Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele said that the whole of the Commission’s team was excited to take part in this yet more innovative initiative to enhance the outreach of the human rights message. He added, “In this regard, initiatives such as the #GirlsTakeOver are aligned with EHRC’s objective and strengthen partnerships with organizations working to uphold women’s human rights since such initiatives further empower girls to recognize and fulfill their potential as future leaders, realizing their right to equal opportunities”.