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About me: Bisi Adeleye Fayemi

Bio

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a feminist activist, writer and thinker. She has many years of experience as a gender specialist, social entrepreneur, policy advocate, and social change philanthropy practitioner. She co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund, (AWDF) – the first Africa-wide grant-making fund, and served as the first Executive Director from 2001-2010. AWDF has played a key role in the promotion of feminist movement building in Africa.

She is currently Principal Partner, Amandla Consulting, specializing in leadership development for women, and she runs an online community called Abovewhispers.com. She is a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and was recently appointed as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, University of London.
When her husband Dr Kayode Fayemi took office as Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, October 16th 2010-2014, Bisi became actively involved in a range of policy advocacy, grassroots empowerment and social inclusion programs in Ekiti State. She led the campaign to enact a Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law (2011) an Equal Opportunities Bill (2013) and a HIV Anti-Stigma Bill (2014).

She serves on the Executive Boards of the African Women’s Development Fund, and the Global Fund for Women USA. She is Chair of the Advisory Council of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund and also serves on the Governing Council of Elizade University, Nigeria.  Bisi is the author of ‘Speaking for Myself’: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism in Africa (2013), ‘Speaking above a Whisper’, (2013) an autobiography and ‘Loud Whispers’ (2017) She also co-edited ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, with Jessica Horn (2008) a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.

Curriculum Vitae

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi was born in Liverpool, England on June 11, 1963. 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.  She has experience as a Feminist Thinker and Writer, Social Entrepreneur, Policy Advocate, Trainer, Social Change Philanthropy Practitioner, Communications Specialist and Social Sector expert.  She is currently Principal Partner, Amandla Consulting, specializing in leadership development for women, and she runs an online community called Abovewhispers.com, where she writes an immensely popular weekly column called Loud Whispers. She is a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and was recently appointed as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, University of London.
She served as the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in London, UK, from 1991-2001 as well as Executive Director of 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, from 2001-2010.

During her years in the UK, Bisi Fayemi worked in the Department of Health as an Administrative Officer. She then became the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in London, UK, with an Africa regional office in Kampala, Uganda, from 1991-2001. While she was the Director of AMwA, she 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, Bisi 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. Since it began grant-making in 2001, AWDF, based in Accra, Ghana, has supported over 1,200 women’s organisations in 42 African countries with millions of dollars in grants. 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.

Bisi played a key role in shaping civil society engagement for black and ethnic minority people in the UK and Europe, giving a voice to the aspirations and concerns to people of African descent in various policy spaces. She was elected as Vice-Chair of the National Association of Women’s Organisations, England and Wales (1992-1994), she served as a Management Committee member of the London Rape Crisis Center, and was the UK representative on the Steering Committee of Women in Development Europe.  She was part of a team of women who founded the Black, Migrant, Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women’s Network in Europe (BWEN) in 1992 and served on the Executive Committee for five years. She also served as a member of the Africa Committee of the Migrants Forum of the European Union from 1992-1995. Bisi has been Co-Chair, International Network of Women’s Funds (2004-2006); Honorary President, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) (2003-2005); and Trustee, Comic Relief (UK) (1998-2001)
During her years in the United Kingdom, Bisi was 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. Alongside her husband Dr Kayode Fayemi and others, she worked tirelessly to draw attention to the many ways in which military rule was crippling Nigeria. She was Vice-Chair of the New Nigerian Forum as well as a member of the Editorial Board of Nigeria Now, a monthly newsletter published by NNF.

Bisi is one of the most vocal women’s rights activists and thinkers on the African continent. During the years in which women’s rights issues began to receive attention in the global policy arena, she played a major role in ensuring that African women’s issues were addressed and their interests represented. She led a delegation of African women in Europe to the UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna, Austria in 1993 as part of the global campaign of ‘Women’s rights are human rights’. In 1995, she coordinated a delegation of twenty women from Africa and Europe to the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing China, where amongst many other activities, she addressed one of the plenary sessions. She also served on the Women’s Committee of the African Union for several years.

A recipient of numerous local and international awards, in 2005, she received an award from the Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK) for outstanding leadership in promoting women’s rights. The prize money for the award (£100,000) was used by AWDF to launch a special HIV/AIDS Fund for African women. Bisi leveraged this into millions of dollars which has supported hundreds of women-led HIV/AIDS initiatives across Africa.

Bisi received the Distinguished Alumni award from the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (2006), as well as an Achievers Award given by the African International 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. She is a Synergos Institute Senior Fellow, as well as the 2000/2001 holder of the Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitorship at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. A Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club as well as a Justice of Peace, Mrs. Fayemi holds the honorary traditional chieftaincy titles of Ochiorah (Women Leader) of Imezi Owa, Ezeagwu Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria (April 2008),  Erelu (Queen Mother) of lsan Kingdom, in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State (March 2011) as well as Ajiseye (Philanthropist) of Ado-Ekiti (December 2013).

 

Expertise and Experience

1. Fields of knowledge and competence
  • Feminist leadership
  • Social justice organizing and movement building
  • Social change philantrophy
  • Social sector institution
2. Personal skills and capacities
  • Feminist leadership
  • Social justice organizing and movement building
  • Social change philanthropy
  • Social sector institution
3. Selected publications
  • Voice, Power and Soul: Images and Voices of African Feminists, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and Jessica Horn (eds) 2008
  • Democratisation and Women in Africa: Progress, Stagnation or retreat? The KRONTI NE AKWAMU LECTURE 2011, published as a monograph by Center for Democratic Development, Ghana.
  • ‘Speaking above a whisper’ , Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, an autobiography, October 2013
  • ‘Speaking for myself’: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, October 2013.
  • ‘Loud Whispers’ , Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, a collection of essays, October 2017
4. Voluntary experience and past affiliations
  • Co-founder /Board member, Black and Migrant Women in Europe Network (1991-2001)
  • Vice Chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations, England and Wales (1992-94),
  • Founder Member, Africa Committee, European Migrants Forum (1992-94)
  • Co-Founder and Vice Chair, New Nigeria Forum (1993-97)
  • UK Representative, Women in Development Europe (1994-97)
  • Management Committee Member, National Women’s Network for International Solidarity (1993-96)
  • Steering Group Member, National Beijing 1995 Forum UK (1994-96)
  • Member, Department for International Development, Development Awareness Expert Working Group (1998-1999)
  • International Adviser, WOMANKIND (1998-2000)
  • Member, UK Advisory Committee, CHANGE (1997-2000)
  • Member Africa Grants Committee, Comic Relief (1995-2001)
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Comic Relief , UK (1998-2001)
  • Member, International Planning Committee for the Triennial  AWID Forum, Guadalajara, Mexico, Association for Women in Development (2001-2002)
  • Member, International Planning Committee, AWID Forum, Association for Women in Development, Bangkok, Thailand (2004-2005)
  • Co-Chair, International Network of Women’s Funds (2004-2006)
  • Steering Group Member, Grantmakers Without Borders (2001-2003)
  • Board Member, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (2001-2006)
  • Board Member, ALLAVIDA (UK) (2002-2005)
  • UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s College, University of London
  • Board Member, African Women’s Development Fund
  • Board Member, African Women’s Development Fund-USA
  • Board Member and Chair of Program Committee, Global Fund for Women, USA
  • Chair, Advisory Board, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund
  • Member Advisory Board, Strategic Partnership for Agriculture, Synergos Institute, Nigeria
  • Contributing Editor, The News magazine
  • Member, Governing Council, ELIZADE University, Nigeria
  • Member, HID Awolowo Foundation, Nigeria
5. Awards
  • Appointed the Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitor in Women and Development and Community Transformation for the academic year 2000/01, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada.
  • Award for `Outstanding Contributions to the African Women’s Movement’ given by the Executive Board and Staff of AMwA, as part of AMwA 15th Anniversary Celebrations, London, September 2000
  • Award for `Contributions towards empowerment of African women in the Diaspora’, given by Women of Nigeria International, London, April 2001
  • Selected to join the Synergos Institute’s Senior Fellows Program, a forum for senior leaders of philanthropic institutions, 2003-2005.
  • Elected as President of Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) 2004-2006. AWID is an international membership organisation of development thinkers and practitioners, with over 6,000 members in various parts of the world.
  • Leadership award for promoting women’s rights, received from the Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK) September The award came with a cash prize of £100,000 for the African Women’s Development Fund.
  • Winner, the Chairman’s Award, Pan-African Women Invent and Innovate, with Joana Foster and Hilda Tadria, organized by Global Women Invent and Innovate, in collaboration with the IFC, private sector arm of the World Bank, September 2005.
  • Achiever’s Award from the African Communications Agency (ACA) at the Africa International Media Summit, Accra, September 2006, for promoting a positive image of Africa.
  • Distinguished Alumni award from the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  • The Timbouktu leadership award, given by Femme Africa Solidarite, Mali, 2006
  • The ‘Changing the Face of Philanthropy’ award from the Women’s Funding Network, USA, April 2007
  • Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club, 2011
  • Honorary Chietaincy titles: installed as the Ochiorah (People’s leader) of Imezi Owa, Ezeagwu Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria, April 2008, Erelu (Queen Mother) of lsan Kingdom, in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State, March 2011, and Ajiseye (Philanthropic leader) of Ado-Ekiti, December 2013.
  • In April 2009, named by New African Magazine as one of the 20 most influential African women on the continent.
  • In 2011, named as one of the 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine.
  • In March 2011, listed among the world’s leading 100 personalities working for the interests of women and girls by Women Deliver.
  • 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.
  • Appointed Justice of Peace, Ekiti State, 2012
  • Received a PhD in Sociology (Honoris Causa) from the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) in November 2014.
  • Numerous awards given by national and local organisations.
5. Interests and hobbies
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Popular culture
  • Expert-level scrabble
  • Collecting African art
  • Music and dance