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Meseret Haileyesus and Her Journey to Empowering Women Across the Globe

"In my journey, one of the most fulfilling endeavours has been the empowerment of marginalized women and Black Youth within BIPOC communities." - Meseret Haileyesus

As we commemorate International Women's Day, it is essential to acknowledge the exceptional individuals who advocate for women’s empowerment. Among these outstanding individuals is Meseret Haileyesus, a multi-award-winning thought leader, social entrepreneur, and change agent. Meseret has garnered numerous accolades for her dedication to community service, including the L’Oréal Paris Top 10 National Woman’s Worth Award, Forty under 40 awards from the Ottawa Business Journal in 2021, and recognition from Honorable Nina Tangri, Member of Parliament for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, among others.


Meseret's impactful contributions have also been acknowledged through prestigious titles such as Women of Inspiration 2021 (Social Impact and Authentic Leader Award), recognition as one of the 100 Most Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2019, and inclusion among the Top 100 Women to Watch in Canada in 2020. Notably, she received the 2023 Canadian Women Entrepreneur award from Google Canada and Canadian Women Entrepreneur, as well as being named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada in 2024. Meseret generously shares her inspiring journey and highlights her pivotal role in advancing women's rights and economic justice on a global scale.


Meseret's journey started in public health, where she served as a midwife and reproductive health rights advocate. For approximately two decades, she dedicated herself to enhancing maternal and child health outcomes, preventing HIV/AIDS, combating female genital mutilation, and promoting sexual reproductive rights. Her contributions extended to healthcare policy initiatives, including the Alberta Aboriginal Health Strategy. Driven by her commitment to supporting marginalized women and children, Meseret transitioned into a role as a public health expert with a focus on international development. Recognizing a significant gap in addressing economic injustice among women, she founded several impactful organizations, such as the Canadian Center for Women Empowerment (CCFWE), where she currently holds the position of Founder and CEO.


Under Meseret's guidance, CCFWE has championed various initiatives aimed at addressing poverty, homelessness, femicide, and mental health, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals. Their work has enabled them to empower women through education, digital technology, credit reporting awareness, and financial literacy. Meseret's leadership has also led to the establishment of Maternity Today and the Canadian Institute for Research on Economic Justice (CIREJ), further amplifying her impact on women's empowerment. Currently, she is an advisor at the Canadian Center for Non-Profit Digital Resilience, the Board of Directors at Centertown Community Health Centre, and the End FGM Canada Network. Furthermore, she is a member of the Governance Committee for the City of Ottawa’s Community Safety Wellbeing 10-year Plan.


As a Black woman and immigrant leader, Meseret acknowledges the unique challenges faced by marginalized women in Canada due to intersectionality. She founded the Canadian National Task Force for Women Economic Justice, influencing policy and legislation to support women's economic independence. Meseret also initiated the Canadian Economic Abuse Prevention Project, aiming to combat economic abuse and empower survivors through research, collaboration, and advocacy. Her advocacy emphasizes increased representation, addressing systemic racism, and promoting economic empowerment. Meseret's efforts have garnered invitations to prestigious platforms such as the House of Commons and the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Meseret's impact also extends beyond Canada, as she tirelessly advocates for economic justice and maternal health on an international scale. Her initiatives have garnered recognition globally, with Economic Abuse Awareness Day celebrated in multiple countries.


Meseret draws much of her inspiration from her mother, whose resilience and compassion have shaped her leadership journey. Guided by her mother's values of empathy, integrity, and perseverance, Meseret is driven in her pursuit of social justice. Her mother's belief in the power of education and self-empowerment has fueled Meseret's own aspirations to make a difference in the lives of others. She carries with her the lessons and values instilled by her mother, which continue to guide and inspire her efforts to create positive change. Meseret is grateful for her mother's influence and unwavering support.


As we honour Meseret Haileyesus and countless women like her, let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting women's empowerment and building a world where every woman can thrive.


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