Celebrating Excellence in Style: WOE 2018

The most anticipated annual event of AWiB WOE came to life, again for the 7thtime. A luxuriously put together gala dinner to celebrate phenomenal women, Sheraton Addis beautifully decorated their ballroom to lavish AWiB’s guests to fine dining and entertainment. Guests were invited to sign personal messages on each of the Women of Excellence nominee’s conversational piece portraits that were mounted in the foyer. Hiber String Quartet Band serenaded the guests as they entered the hallway playing their soothing music.

Guests enjoyed taking pictures with their friends and families. Once the 2018 Women of Excellence (WOE) arrived, guests joined and mingled with them while taking plenty of picture. The 5 Women of Excellence 2018 took their seats on the mini stage outside the dining hall for an up close and personal question and answer session. They answered questions forwarded from the guests, reflecting on their journey as well as sharing their experience.

By 6 PM, doors to Lalibella Ballroom opened. Guests took their seats and the MC of the evening, Sewit Haileselassie, AWiB 2019 President, took the podium to begin the ceremony. She introduced AWiB’s works, selection processes of WOE and AWiB’s partners naming individually: Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), Dashen Bank, Amba Pharmaceuticals, Center for International Reproductive Health and Training (CIRHT) and Impala Communication. Sewit explained how AWiB partners are the most important part of this annual WOE celebration and that their support sustains it from year to year.

Then the 5 WOE were ushered in style by AWiB Board Members and walked to the stage to salute guests who received them with warm standing ovation.

AWiB’s President, Metasebia (Meti) Shewaye Yilma delivered a speech depicting her personal journey and relationship with the AWiB movement, her role and responsibilities as a member and a president on the board, as well as AWiB’s contribution to the community through its various programs.

This year, AWiB honors the life and work of Dr. Tewabech Bishaw. Dr. Tewabech is a passionate public health specialist who has served for over 40 years and contributed immensely to the improvement of the health service delivery of Ethiopia by focusing on people-centered activities and matters concerned with human rights, equality, justice and freedom. She started her carrier as a Health Officer responsible for a Health Center which catered health service delivery for 500,000. At the capacity of Department Head of Health Education and Training Program she achieved unimaginable feat in the overall areas: training, developing curriculums and every activities of the Ministry of Health. Dr. Tewabech is one of the founding members of the Ethiopian Public Health Association established 26 years ago and faithfully served twice as its president. She is also founding member and currently the Secretary-General of the African Federation of Public Health Associations, an umbrella of National Public Health Associations and Networks that covers all African countries.

Dr. Tewabech’s life journey was presented in 23 minutes documentary co-produced by UNWOMEN and Impala Communication.

Nahu, Cofounder and Director, gave a brief introduction and emphasized the “Tewabech Personality”, her long fight for women’s equality, underlining that we must learn from this courageous woman to have the stamina that would help us stay the course of fighting for parity. She also suggested that Dr. Tewabech becomes Ethiopia’s Health Minister and handed the award.

Dr. Tewabech on her speech stressed that “We have to start somewhere to make a dent in history and take part in transforming the lives of our community”.

This year, AWiB celebrated its longstanding partner, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia for its unwavering support through partnership and corporate membership for 6 years and signing up for additional 2 years of partnership. In addition to contributing to AWiB’s growth, CBE has helped transform its women to its high leadership level. Meti handed over a trophy that shows their effort as “Champion for Women” to Ms. Lubaba Damte, Director of HR and Expertise of CBE.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Ethiopian Circus Entertainment company of seven young dancers named “Dessert Flowers”.

As it is part of the celebration, short documentaries on the life and works of the WOE produced by Impala Communication were screened. The 5 WOE were chosen for their vision, courage, compassion, proven success, and generosity as demonstrated by how they help other women and society succeed. They are:

  • Keria Ali, a business woman in Merkato works to enable women’s economic empowerment by helping them start their own businesses and make their life better through mentorship. Keria works to create a community where girls can walk freely without fear of violence, harassment and sexual assaults.
  • Kibra Kebede, an embodiment of resilience and determination, is an activist working to raise awareness on Parkinson’s Disease through the association she founded, Parkinson’s Patients Support Organization (PPSO)
  • Rahel Shawel, a renowned architect, recognized for her work at an international level with experience in architectural, interior and landscaping design and supervision. Founder and Principal Architect at RAAS Architects, Rahel mentors young women students and junior architects to flourish in the male dominated field.
  • Workinesh Daba, a champion for girls’ education and community development, Workinesh shows no sign of slowing down. Through her NGO, For Development Association – Ethiopia, Workinesh is implementing various education, health and development projects to enable community transformation in Addis Alem.
  • Workinesh Munie, a pioneer in starting care for the elderly, she used her network and connections to establish and lead an organization, KibreAregawuyan Migbare Senay Direjit (KAMSD), by modeling servant leadership and altruistic commitment.

After dinner, the keynote speaker, Professor Fetein Abay, Pioneering Plant and Seed Scientist, delivered a speech on the need of bringing women to the forefront and about her own struggle to push the women’s cause. She also reminded us of her brief conversation with PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed and her suggestion that women should take the leadership position while he was leading the Science and Technology Ministry. She even joked that he might have heard her after all.

Desset Abebe from UNWOMEN representing the 5 independent judges that were selected to pick the Titleholder of AWiB WOE 2018: Nebil Kellow of Enterprise Partners (EP), Ambanesh Kebede of Amba Pharmaceuticals, Anna Getaneh of AWiB 2017 WOE Titleholder and Asseged Mulugeta of 104.7 FM took the stage to explain the arduous, painstaking and meticulous selection process. Then she handed the envelope to Professor Fetien who announced the long awaited announcement. And the Titleholder is ….suspense….suspense… Kibra Kebede. To which the audience rejoiced the announcement with laud applause for Kibra fought relentlessly to create awareness of this devastating nerve affliction, Parkinson’s disease and has earned great respect in the community.

AWiB managed to host an evening of glitz and glamour to recognize excellence and achievement by creating a memorable experience; a prestigious occasion in its entirety. With Formal or Traditional dress code theme, guests were encouraged to come in their fashionable Ethiopian couture, which added to the whole ambiance of the event. Vibrant traditional styles and colors added to the setup and beauty of the evening. The board members were all dressed in this year’s designer pick, Dagmawit Tesfaye of DAG Clothing Line, all differently styled to showcase and promote the up and coming fashion designer.

This profoundly satisfying, gratifying event ended at 10:00 PM with guests taking more pictures with our celebrities. AWiB extends HER gratitude to all the WOE 2018, to 400 plus guests, to the partners, service providers, and Sheraton Addis. Especial thanks goes to the board and staff members who have tirelessly exerted many hours to put deserving women of Ethiopia on the minds of many youth and on the hearts of the community.

AWiB keeps the light shining and invites you all for next year gala celebration on October 27, 2019.

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