Azeb Mesfin

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This article contains a Habesha name. This person is addressed by her given name, Azeb, and not as Mesfin—the given name of her father.
Azeb Mesfin
Born Azeb Mesfin Haile
Wolqayt, Ethiopia
Nationality Ethiopian
Spouse(s) Meles Zenawi

Azeb Mesfin Haile[1] is the widow of former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi.[2] She is the founder and patron of Ethiopia's National Initiative for Mental Health.[3] In early 2009, she was appointed CEO of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray by its head Abadi Zemu.[4]

Political career[edit]

Azeb, born in Wolqayt,[5] was married to the former Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi until his death. Together they had three children; Semhal, Marda and Senay Meles. She was elected in 2005 to the House of Peoples' Representatives (the lower House of the Ethiopian Parliament) representing her home woreda of Wolqayt and Humera, and serves as chair of its Social Affairs Standing Committee. Her role has at times been controversial, with some members of Ethiopia's diaspora alleging that, during the period in which she was an executive at the parastatal Mega Corporation, she was involved in "the impropriety of mingling public, private and party-owned businesses."[6]

However Azeb is also known for her work to teach rural Ethiopians about the issues of HIV/AIDS and advocating for more women's rights. In January 2007, she was given the "Legacy of a Dream" award for her leadership and during an awards ceremony commemorating the life of the civil rights activist and leader Dr. Martin Luther King.[7]

Her appearance at a special ceremony to honor the First Ladies of Africa for their efforts against the spread of HIV/AIDS held by Georgetown University of Washington DC on 15 January 2007 was met by protests of exiled Ethiopians."[8] The University was awarding its "John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award" to the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS for its leadership and service toward the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mesfin was to accept the award on behalf of the organization along with the first ladies of Zambia and Rwanda. She started the organization "Ethiopian Coalition of Women against HIV/AIDS" and continues to work closely with community leaders to ensure the rights of women,fight harmful traditional practices and HIV/AIDS.[9] She said the award she received is not just for her organization but for the entire Ethiopian women declaring "the award is the result of the relentless struggle waged by Ethiopian women."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tigray". House of Peoples' Representatives. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 6. Hon.W/ro Azeb Mesfin Haile 
  2. ^ David Smith (30 March 2012). "Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi's death sparks fears of turmoil". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Azeb Mesfin Vice President of OAFLA
  4. ^ "First Lady Makes it to EFFORT's Helm", Addis Fortune, published March 2009 (accessed 5 May 2010)
  5. ^ "Azeb Mesfin, MP and Widow of Meles Zenawi". Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa). 2013-09-08. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  6. ^ Gelaw, Abebe, "The 'Queen of Mega' in Parliament," Ethiomedia, 24 January 2006. (accessed 30 September 2006)
  7. ^ Azeb Mesfin given Martin Luther King memorial award
  8. ^ Mays, Kate, "Group Objects to University Giving Award to 'First Lady', Protests Disrupt MLK Jr Commemoration," Ethiomedia, 18 January 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  9. ^ Ethiopian Coalition of Women against HIV
  10. ^ "'Legacy of a Dream Award' belongs to entire Ethiopian women: Azeb". Walta Information Center. Archived from the original on 2007-07-31.