SU Law Clinic Partners with U.S. Department of State to Bolster Disability Rights in Ethiopia
The Disability Rights Law Clinic at the College of Law has been selected to participate in a U.S. Department of State sponsored Professional Fellows EMPOWER Program, administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). This two-way international exchange program aims to expand the capacity of organizations in the United States and abroad to promote inclusive communities and advance the rights of persons with disabilities around the world.
Representing the only law clinic in the United States to participate, Associate Professor Michael Schwartz will partner with two Ethiopia-based organizations, Human Rights Commission and the National Ethiopian Women’s Rights Organization, to implement a long-term project on establishing a legal aid clinic for women and children.
“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for such a prestigious and worthy project,” says Schwartz, who is deaf and is the director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic. “The Clinic looks forward to working with its Ethiopian partners in advancing disability rights and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities in Ethiopia, a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
This month, SU College of Law sent Schwartz to Ethiopia for a preliminary exchange visit with the partnering organizations to gain an understanding of disability issues and inclusion in their communities, as well as to lay the foundation for a collaborative project and an effective ongoing professional relationship.
One representative from each Ethiopian organization will then be hosted by MIUSA, Oct. 13-19, 2013, and by SU College of Law Oct. 19 – 29, 2013, where they will work alongside American counterparts to gain first-hand experience on how issues in their field are addressed in the United States. Part of this exchange will include interactions with American law students and local women’s rights organizations, such as Vera House.
The Disability Rights Law Clinic is one of 20 U.S.-based organizations and institutions competitively selected to host approximately 40 disability rights advocates and leaders from 40 international organizations in 20 different countries. Projects range from inclusive education, independent living, health care rights, laws and policy, recreation and sports, access to public services, and advocacy for all persons with disabilities.
At the conclusion of the U.S. program, all overseas participants and their U.S. hosts will gather in Washington, D.C., for a three-day conference facilitated by MIUSA, Oct. 29- Nov.2. Participants will have the opportunity to network with other leaders in their field, and share plans for long-term programming that will be implemented upon their return home.