Communication Your Vision:
The Case of EWLA Recap

It is that time of the month. AWiB’s monthly event has come. You hear the sounds of the footsteps growing as more people enter the “Hallway of Networking”. The voices progressively get louder as more enthusiastic guests arrive in hunger for the overflowing abundance of wisdom and enlightenment. As people from various backgrounds converse about themselves and their expertise, you notice numerous fresh handshakes, name exchanges, laughter, and a deluge of incessant ideas. Coupled with the exquisite cuisine, the sponsors had taken their seats on the corners and began showing their work.

You could watch the attendees swarm to the hall as soon as it was time for the seasoned speakers to instruct us on how to convey our vision. People from all walks of life and professions quietly took their seats as they awaited the delights of that day as they mixed together.

Samrawit Meressa took the stage with her ever-youthful vigor, and the event officially began. After giving a brief speech about the wonders of AWiB, she went on to introduce AWiB’S board members, partners, and this month’s sponsors. The sponsors were all given three to five minutes to promote their companies. Enat Bank took the first stage, followed by Curl Love, Arsho Medical Laboratories PLC, and DMC Spaces.

Shortly after, the audience welcomed our moderator, Mekdela. Customary to Mekdela, he refreshed the audience’s energy with “The Massage”. This left the guests puzzled and in awe as one by one, each stood from their seats at Mekdela’s request. The room erupted with laughter as Mekdela instructed to massage two people sitting to each one’s rights and lefts. Rejuvenated and energetic, the audience took back their seats, and Mekdela followed by introducing the theme of the meeting.

April’s anticipated topic was “Communicating Your Vision: The Case of EWLA”. As AWiB’s 2023 theme, in the process of carving the leader in you, what is a vision in itself? Do we have a vision in the very first place? How do you articulate your vision in a way that can capture peoples’ minds and hearts? And how you make people follow your idea as you take each other’s hands to reach the goal. And in all this, how do you have the steady perseverance to chase it to its end? Who is EWLA and what journey did it take to reach here were amongst the topics to be discussed. 

Mekdela introduced each of our audience in his characteristically dramatic public speaking style. Yasser Bagersh, an experienced art curator, communication strategist, and businessman, Lensa Biyena, the Executive Directress of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), and Meron the Deputy Bureau Head of the Addis Ababa Women, Children, and Social Affairs took the stages one by one.

Yasser started off by giving an introduction about himself. He led the stage in such a vibrant way as you could hear frequent episodes of laughter erupt every time. During his speech, he included his personal story, which made the guests feel more connected to the subject matter. With the guest’s attention caught so tightly, Yasser continued by giving the basic definition of vision, stating his personal vision, and clarifying the sharp distinction between a mission statement and a vision statement. He emphasized the value of a good leader in guiding you through your vision. A vision doesn’t only stand for a company/organizational level but also for individuals, as family leaders, community leaders, and more. He placed more stress on the idea that your principles should come before any of these. He finalized by giving the exemplary vision statements of Apple, Habitat for Humanity, Google, TedTalk, Facebook and Cactus Ethiopia, and most uniquely, Lime Tree.

With the audience’s arm still wide open to receive what the rest of the speakers would offer, Meron and Lensa followed by correlating “Vision” with “EWLA’s journey” as their experiences in being the former and present  Executive Directress of EWLA, respectively.  In EWLA’s journey of promoting a safe Ethiopia for Women, they explained the many challenges they had faced and the battles they had to fight to promote an ever-safe Ethiopia for women. A place where women don’t have to live their whole lives as victims as their rights are always being torn away and trampled upon and no one to speak back up for them. They went into great length about the route EWLA had to take to get to where it is now with the dedicated and passionate women lawyers who have sacrificed to see the advancement of women’s legal, economic, social, and political rights.

They explained how in times of privilege and in times of hardships, the visionary leaders used the opportunities and pushed the setbacks, alongside passing this vision to their descendants. Though the journey is still undertaking, Ethiopian women can now breathe freedom. From the disruption of the status quo that had sunk women’s voices to this day, EWLA has and is still playing a significant role in advocating women’s rights. But for all this to prevail, EWLA had to stand firm to its ground to this day and live the future the leaders have envisioned.

Mekdela prompted our presenters to sum up as he questioned what they wanted their audiences to take away from the event. Each explained, one by one, that perseverance requires a passion for whatever it is that you do. Everyone has a distinct life purpose, and they all recognize that is the key. What keeps you going every morning you wake up? Understanding your true calling and in all that, giving back to society!  Be true to who you are; honest, genuine, and brimming with integrity. As much as having a vision is crucial, your value surpasses that. This will send you on a one-way trip to success, passing both bumpy and easy terrain.

Mekdela summarized his remarks with the following points: Everyone should have a vision for the future.

  • A vision’s importance isn’t on an organizational level only but individuals should have a vision for themselves.
  • One factor that fosters the vision is creating a culture within the organization.
  • Your vision should translate in the passage of time.
  • Value is paramount.
  • There is a clear contrast between a mission statement and a vision statement.
  • The culture of coaching and mentorship must always keep in mind.

Following the presenters’ outstanding discussion on the subject, audience members had the chance to pass on questions. Concerns were raised about how the entire community could be involved in the women’s rights defense. This was neatly answered as they explained how EWLA involves numerous male volunteers as counselors and legal advisors in the agenda of gender equality as well as the issue of gender-based violence. EWLA also works on coaching and mentoring men alongside their wives in family cases where reconciliation, mediation and such are practiced.  

Another question revolved around how volunteering could sustain without the incent of payment. From the pouring passionate heart of EWLA, it was explained that all the accomplishments sum up for the good of the people. With the obvious existence of paid employees within the organization, the passion of standing up for a person whose rights are ripped away from and contributing back to the community is the driving fuel that keeps EWLA going towards its vision.

In many of the queries, an overlapping theme observed was the issue regarding the changing of vision through the course of time. Yasser addressed this issue through his immersive stories by explaining that a vision never goes away and that it’s only a matter of time before its accomplishment. He described that even as we pass through hardships, letting our vision go should not be an option. He explained we should stick to our visions no matter what. By each speaker’s finest possible responses, the event was concluded as such.

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