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Announcement Regarding the Passing of WBU 2nd Vice-President, Dr. Elly Macha

We at the World Blind Union (WBU) were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our 2nd Vice President, Dr. Elly Macha on Friday, March 31st. Dr. Macha passed away suddenly at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, UK after a short illness. Dr. Macha had been involved with the WBU and our work since 2004 and was a leader and mentor within her native country of Tanzania, across Africa and worldwide. Her leadership, expertise and strong sense of social justice will be sorely missed. 

Dr. Fredric Schroeder, President of the WBU said: “We were delighted when Elly was elected to the WBU leadership team as 2nd Vice President at our recent General Assembly in August of 2016.  Bringing the strong voice of blind women and persons with disabilities from the developing world, she had already made a tremendous contribution to our work and we were looking forward to benefiting from her knowledge and advocacy skills during the coming years.”

Dr. Elly Macha, born in Tanzania and blind since the age of two, was a strong advocate in disability rights and inclusion, with emphasis in the areas of empowerment of Women with Disabilities, Inclusive Education, Disability and Human Rights and development. She started her advocacy work at the age of 18 as a member of the Tanzania League of the Blind (TLB), where she would eventually become a Chairperson of a TLB branch and then the Executive Secretary of TLB’s Women's Department for five years. 

At the national level, she served in various posts, including as an Education Officer of the Tanzania Society for the Blind (TSB), Founder of the deafblind organization in Tanzania, National Coordinator of the Vocational and Rehabilitation Programme for persons with disabilities in Tanzania, and Director of Research for Information Centre on Disability-Tanzania.

At the regional and international levels, Dr. Elly Macha served as an Executive Director of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) for six years, and as a disability human rights consultant on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in East Africa for four years with the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN).

Most recently, Dr Elly Macha served as a member of parliament, in one of the Special Women’s seats, representing women with disabilities in the Parliament of Tanzania. She was a member of the Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group (TWPG), a Board Member of the Community Based Rehabilitation Africa Network (CAN), and a Member of the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in addition to her position as 2nd Vice President of the World Blind Union (WBU). 

Dr. Elly Macha held a doctorate degree in Gender, Disability, Development and Access to Education in Tanzania from the University of Leeds, UK; a Master's Degree in Special Education International from the University of Manchester, UK; and Bachelor of Art (Education) from the University of Dar es salaam, Tanzania. She will be greatly missed, not only as an invaluable colleague and ally in the disability movement, but also as a friend with a warm spirit who touched many people's lives.

Dr. Penny Hartin

CEO, World Blind Union