Ethiopian gender & disability champion Yetnebersh Nigussie awarded the Spirit of Helen Keller Award 2018

New York, 8 March 2018: Helen Keller International, a global NGO dedicated to saving and improving the sight and lives of the world’s vulnerable, today announces Yetnebersh Nigussie as the recipient of The Spirit of Helen Keller Award 2018. 

Nigussie is being awarded for her personal journey of determination and compassion and the global voice she gives to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and inclusive education.

The 36-year old Ethiopian lawyer works for the international disability and development organisation, Light for the World, as Senior Inclusion Advisor. In 2005, Nigussie co-founded the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development (ECDD).

“Yetnebersh’s dedicated work is all one with Helen Keller’s life quest and her commitment to serving the blind and those unseen-- the world’s most vulnerable. We could not think of a more deserving recipient of The Spirit of Helen Keller Award this year,” said Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of Helen Keller International.

Nigussie will accept the award at The Spirit of Helen Keller Gala on 2 May 2018 at Gotham Hall, New York.

“I’m honoured to have been awarded the prestigious and inspiring Spirit of Helen Keller Award,” said Nigussie.

“Fighting for the inclusion of people with disabilities is my purpose in life, which makes being recognised for exactly that a dream come true. My heart smiles at the idea of being associated with Helen Keller, who is such an extraordinary woman.”

Announcement of new recognition: ‘Her Abilities Award’, a Light for the World initiative

 Inspired by being awarded The Spirit of Helen Keller Award as well as The Right Livelihood Award in 2017, Nigussie announces a new recognition this International Women’s Day.

 “I am happy for the recognition I have achieved, but I know there are millions of other women with disabilities out there doing amazing things everyday - without the acknowledgement they deserve.

“So I have been searching for an opportunity to give something back to a community which is so often sidelined or made invisible by society – women with disabilities.

“That is why - on behalf of Light for the World - I am now launching ‘Her Abilities’, an award to truly shine a spotlight on the achievements of so many brilliant women with disabilities.

“The main message of this award is: focus on our 99 abilities, not our one disability!” said Nigussie.

Her Abilities, a Light for the World initiative, inspired and driven forward by Nigussie, is the first global award celebrating achievements of women with disabilities. 

“It speaks to Yetnebersh’s great passion and deep caring that she is now establishing an award to recognize others.  These amazing women with disabilities, Helen Keller and Yetnebersh Nigussie, who overcame obstacles and achieved such greatness in their lives, are an inspiration to us all.” said Kathy Spahn.

Photo: Gregor Kuntscher