The Coalition of Ethiopian Women for Mutual Support
On December 20th, 2003, the New York City-based Coalition of Ethiopian
Women for Mutual Support (CEWMS) held its 10th anniversary dinner.
The CEWMS serves as a resource center for Ethiopian refugee and
immigrant women residing in the United States. Founded in 1993
by Ms. Abaynesh Asrat, CEWMS was designed to specifically address
the need for developing the socio-economic status of refugee and
immigrant female Ethiopian residents. CEWMS is a valuable source
of legal, social, and cultural information for Ethiopian women
in the United States.
her presentation at the Centennial Celebration of U.S.-Ethiopia
Relations Conference that took place last December at Stanford
University, Ms. Asrat described CEWMS as an organization that
“assists us in navigating our experiences and in developing our
wellbeing.” For the past several years Ms. Asrat has been serving
as a senior consultant for a major health care facility in New
York City. Using her background in social work, Ms. Asrat works
alongside educators, doctors, and psychologists to break down
cultural barriers that may exist within multi-ethnic communities.
CEWMS uses various social outlets such as theater tickets donated
by UNICEF to expose community members to places and circumstances
beyond their enclave. Other social activities have included art
exhibitions, poetry readings, and food festivals.
Asrat points out that the language barrier is one of the key problems
many new immigrants face. Another issue she addresses is access
to health insurance: “There is a need to provide information to
immigrants in a way they can understand it, thus allowing them
to retain their dignity and pride.” Still other women need direction
in identifying educational opportunities and the financial assistance
necessary to matriculate in schools. One of the most urgent issues
that CEWMS focuses on is that of domestic violence and the need
to educate both women and men about how to eliminate it. One of
the main purposes and objectives of CEWMS is to enable Ethiopian
women to comfortably discuss home-related issues in a supportive
environment. Ms. Asrat states that the CEWMS “acts as an advocacy
group to promote Ethiopian women’s rights in the U.S. and, as
such, convenes forums to consider community
opinion on relevant issues that affect the
social and economic conditions of
Ethiopian women.” To this end, last year
CEWMS hosted the first community
program on domestic violence and invited
both men and women to the educational
program. The event was very successful
and has encouraged CEWMS members to
continue to provide the same services on
a larger scale.
Membership in the Coalition of Ethiopian Women for Mutual Support
is open to all Ethiopian women, 18 years of age and over residing
in the United States. Associate membership is also open to any
Ethiopian male residents.
join or to become involved in CEWMS activities please write to:The
Coalition of Ethiopian Women for Mutual Support, 17 Battery Place,
Suite 966N, New York, NY, 1004-1102, or call (212) 968-0749.
Ms. Asrat with supermodel Liya Kebede and her husband at 10th Anniversary
celebration of CEWMS