News in Brief

Mastercard Foundation law student to study Ethiopian disability laws in Canada

Mastercard Foundation recipient Hiwot Mekuanent will advance her research on the rights of people living with disabilities in Ethiopia to Canada. 

As part of her distinction, Mekuanent is currently completing her PhD in Law at Queen’s, with a special focus on human rights law and disabilities. Additionally, Mekuanent earned an LLM in human rights law from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and is now a lecturer and the director for the Disability Studies and Service Directorate at the University of Gondar. 

Announced in 2017, Queen’s is currently in a 10-year partnership with the University of Gondar, the oldest medical school in Ethiopia. The Mastercard Foundationis supporting the partnership, which is designed to expand inclusive higher education for young people withdisabilities, develop new occupational therapy programs, and further research for inclusive education in Africa.

The Foundation has committed to contributing $24.2 million over this time.

As per the partnership, the University of Gondar will provide 450 students—290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees—with post-secondary education in a range of fields, including health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences. The program is especially oriented towards engaging young people with disabilities—and those from conflict-affected countries.

Faculty members at the University of Gondar will also be granted study opportunities at Queen’s, where they’ll learn about new research in the field of education and further their own research projects. 

Mekuanent has focused her scope of research on issues faced by people with disabilities in Ethiopia. She’s analyzing the country’s legal rights for persons with disabilities, and discriminatory laws that persist despite the country’s commitment to equal human rights for those with disabilities.

Following graduation, she plans to form an organization dedicated to ensuring the accessibility of public institutions as a practical application of her research and experience.

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