Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

Social Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of the African Women’s Development Fund, (AWDF)

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a gender and development specialist, social entrepreneur, policy advocate, trainer, social change philanthropy practitioner and communications specialist. She has a BA (1984) and MA (1988) in History from the University of Ife, Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University). She also received an MA in Gender and Society (1992) from Middlesex University, UK.

During her years in the UK, Bisi Fayemi worked in the Department of Health as an Administrative Officer.  She was also very active in Pan-African organizing as well as political activism. She was a member of the Pan-African Movement, as well as a founding member of the New Nigerian Forum (NNF), an activist think-tank critical of military dictatorship in Nigeria. She then became the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) , while there, Mrs. Fayemi established the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI), a training and networking forum for young African women. The leadership institute she developed has become such a powerful legacy that today, the AWLI has trained over 6,000 women across Africa, and most of these women are now in senior decision-making positions as Ministers, Members of Parliaments, academics, civil society leaders and employees of international organisations.

In 2000, Mrs. Fayemi co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund, (AWDF) – the first Africa-wide grant-making fund, which supports the work of organizations promoting women’s rights in Africa.  AWDF has played a key role in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Africa, through its support of grassroots initiatives, policy engagements and movement building for social justice. Bisi still serves on the AWDF Board, and is currently one of the three Co-Chairs of the Endowment Campaign of the African Women’s Development Fund, alongside Ms Graca Machel and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She also sits on the board of AWDF-USA. Mrs Fayemi is also a member of the African Women’s Leadership Network for Reproductive Rights and Family Planning, a network coordinated by AWDF and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Mrs Fayemi has also served in many other leadership positions over the yearsand has been one of the most vocal women’s rights activists and thinkers on the African continent.

When her husband Dr Kayode Fayemi became Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, on October 16th 2010, sBisi became actively involved in a range of policy, advocacy and social inclusion programs to support his administration. She was the Chairperson of the Ekiti State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (Ekiti SACA). She founded the Ekiti Development Foundation in 201, a non-governmental organization that focuses on women and youth development. In collaboration with other stakeholders, she led the campaign to enact a Gender Based Violence Prohibition Bill which was signed in to law in November 2011, as well as the Equal Opportunities Bill which became law in December 2013.

Mrs Fayemi has also been a recipient of numerous local and international awards, notably:

Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK) for outstanding leadership in promoting women’s rights. (2005)

Media Summit (2006) for promoting a positive image of Africa.

She is a 2007 recipient of the ‘Changing the Face of Philanthropy’ award from the Women’s Funding Network, USA.

In April 2009, Mrs. Fayemi was named by New African Magazine as one of the 20 most influential African women on the continent.

In March 2011, she was listed among the world’s leading 100 personalities working for the interests of women and girls by Women Deliver.

In June 2011, the New African Magazine named Mrs Fayemi as one of the 100 Most Influential People of Africa.

She is also the recipient of the 2011 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of philanthropy, given by the Synergos Institute, New York, and the first Nigerian to receive the award.

Mrs. Fayemi holds the honorary chieftaincy titles of Ochiorah (People’s Leader) of Imezi Owa, Ezeagwu Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria (April 2008), Erelu of lsan Kingdom, in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State (March 2011) as well as Ajiseye of Ado-Ekiti (December 2013).

Bisi is the author of ‘Speaking for Myself’: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism (2013) and ‘Speaking above a Whisper’, (2013) an autobiography. She also co-edited ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, with Jessica Horn (2008) a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.

She recently Founded Abovewhispers.com – an online news and Development Platform. She is currently a Board member of the African Women’s Development Fund (Ghana), Board member of Global Fund for Women (USA), Chair-Advisory Board of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, and UN Women Nigeria Goodwill Ambassador.

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