The Ethiopian Constitution is the guiding legal document for enacting sector policies, strategies and programmes. It incorporates principles of equal access to basic services but also acknowledges provision is linked to the economy. Article 90 states ‘to the extent the country’s resources permit, policies shall aim to provide all Ethiopians access to public health and education, clean water, housing, food and social security’ (FDRE, 1995). There is no explicit reference to persons with disabilities or marginalised groups, but the phrase ‘all Ethiopians’ should be interpreted as inclusive of everyone. However, because of a widespread lack of awareness of the needs and rights of marginalised people, this interpretation is not always used in practice.
The Constitution also establishes the framework for gender equality by stating that the ‘Government shall ensure the participation of women in equality with men in all economic and social development endeavours’.
Responsibility for ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities, as defined by the CRPD, lies with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affair (MoLSA) and its line bureaus and offices at regional and district levels. MoLSA is expected to work with the focal persons in all branches of government to ensure disability mainstreaming in all sectors and programmes. Mainstreaming means ensuring that an issue or topic, in this case disability, is at the centre (in the mainstream) of consideration when developing and implementing policy and not left to one side or ignored. In addition to MoLSA’s leadership role, all ministries and bureaus have a responsibility to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities in their work and budgets.