Winnie Byanyima, a grass-roots activist, human rights advocate, senior international public servant, and world recognized expert on women’s rights, is currently Executive Director of Oxfam International.
Born in Uganda in 1959, Ms. Byanyima earned engineering degrees in the United Kingdom and began her career as an engineer for Uganda Airlines. She was appointed to the diplomatic service in 1989, where she represented Uganda in France and at UNESCO in Paris. She returned to Uganda in 1994 and for the next ten years she served as a member of parliament, created an all-woman parliamentary caucus, and was founding leader of the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a national NGO in Uganda to champion women’s equal participation in decision-making.
From 2004 until 2006, she served at the African Union Commission to improve the institution’s governance and equality by establishing a program on gender and development. In 2006, she moved to the global stage as director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program, working on development, climate change and economic policy through the prism of gender considerations. In that role, she co-founded a 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance of civil society, bilateral and multilateral organizations and chaired a UN-wide task force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and of climate change.
On May 1 2013 she began a five-year term leading Oxfam International, which provides strategic guidance, support, expertise and coordination across the global organization. Through our 17 affiliates, Oxfam works with people in 94 countries to provide humanitarian relief in crisis, empower poor and marginalized people to gain social and economic equality, and campaign for a more just world.
"I am very proud to lead such a respected organization as Oxfam," Ms. Byanyima said. "I feel that we're part of challenging and changing times. But I am also excited by all the new opportunities that civil society can seize to support poor people to claim their rights, and to finally escape poverty, hunger and injustice. I want to help Oxfam to build upon its great legacy because I believe the world needs a strong civil society now than ever before."
Winnie Byanyima's Events & News
Winnie will deliver The Eighth Annual David Morrison Lecture in International Development at Trent University, Canada.
September 2015 will see the formal adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a summit in New York, as part of the UN General Assembly. In the-run up to this:
Winnie wrote a blog for the World Economic Forum (WEF) - in a series on the SDGs - on how she firmly believes that we can eradicate poverty by 2030, but explains what we have to do differently to achieve this.
As part of a series produced by The Huffington Post on the SDGs, Winnie wrote an Op-Ed titled "Will Global Governments Have the Courage to Take on the 1 Percent?"
In light of the global displacement crisis, Winnie wrote an Op-Ed for Al-Jazeera English - calling for "collective humanity at all levels of society" to be restored. She also wrote on this issue in La Stampa in Italia - "Io, ex profuga, chiedo all’Europa di non chiudere le sue porte".
Winnie was in Milan for the Expo Milano 2015 with Oxfam Italia. Together with the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides, Winnie launched a documentary - "District Zero" - as part of the EUsaveLIVES campaign.
"Nine to Noon" is an award-winning program on Radio New Zealand. In early September, Kathryn Ryan interviewed Winnie about her life experiences - and the reality of inequality.
To mark World Humanitarian Day on the 19th of August 2015, Winnie writes for the Huffington Post on "Challenging the injustice and inequality that drives crises".
In the "How can we make 2015 a turning point for development?" blog for WEF, Winnie reflects on The United Nation’s Third Financing for Development Summit in Addis Ababa and challenges the actors at the next two summits to create real action on climate change and inequality.
“I love my job,” says Ms. Byanyima in "Oxfam International’s Winnie Byanyima puts social justice first" from the Globe and Mail
In the piece for Mail and Guardian (Africa), "Private finance is not a panacea for development woes", Winnie wrote that "It's imperative we get a financing for development framework in place to rid the world of destabilising and dehumanising poverty".
In a speech at the 1st Roundable of the 3rd Financing for Development Conference, Addis Ababa, "Global Partnership and the Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development", Winnie challenged richer countries that the time has come for the creation of an intergovernmental tax body.
Winnie is attending the UN Financing For Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (FFD3).Winnie is speaking on many panels, including “Financing Africa’s food security and agricultural growth in a warmer world: How can the FfD and Paris climate summit help?"and the IMF Sponsored “A conversation-- Building a Supportive Framework for Strengthened Revenue Mobilizationʺ. Winnie will also be engaging in Bilateral meetings across a range of sectors, including with Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary for ECLAC, Tanya Pilbersek, Deputy leader of the Opposition (Australia) and EU Commissioner Neven Mimica. Winnie will also attend events hosted by a range of sponsors, from Oxfam to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Winnie gave a personal reflection in a filmed lecture on the 19th of June, on Is Africa Rising? for the African Studies Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford. (Click here for the podcast)
- At the Conference of Montreal (organised by the International Economic Forum of the Americas), Winnie took part in the inaugural session of the forum, whose theme this year was "Building a Balanced Economy" and asked companies to reduce the wage differences between workers and executives to improve social equality.
- World Economic Forum on Africa 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa (03 - 05 June 2015).
- In advance of the meeting Winnie wrote about her agenda for the meeting and How to make Africa work for the many, not just the few
- Winnie spoke on a panel "Informal Is the New Normal" developed in partnership with the BBC.
- Winnie highlighted that "It's absurd that there are international organisations for trade, health and football but not for tax".
- UN Post-2015 planning meetings in New York (21-24 April 2015). Winnie spoke on a panel “Post 2015 Informal: Means of Implementation and Global Partnership” hosted by the Government of the Netherlands.
- Annual Meeting of the World Bank/IMF in Washington, DC (17-19 April 2015):
- Winnie delivered Oxfam's recommendations at a high-level Roundtable on Ebola with IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank’s President Jim Kim, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the presidents of the three Ebola-affected countries, and finance ministers. Oxfam’s report "Never Again: Building Resilient Health Systems and Learning from the Ebola Crisis” was presented to the audience.
- Winnie spoke on a panel on “Land Governance and Climate-Smart Agriculture" referring to Oxfam's "Secure and Equitable Land Rights in the Post-2015 Agenda" paper from Jan 2015 (17 April 2015).
- Winnie, as a member of the World Bank's Gender in Development Advisory Group, will participated in planning meetings in Washington DC (19 April 2015).
- Event organized by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) (13 April 2015). Winnie spoke about fighting inequality by using global corporate tax reform.
- World Social Forum in Tunisia (March 2015). Winnie added Oxfam's signature to a joint statement by leading INGOs “Securing a Just and Sustainable World means challenging the 1%”.
- 38th Annual Governing Council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (17 February 2015). Winnie addressed on the importance of smallholder farms to help eradicate global hunger.
- Winnie Byanyima co-chaired the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland (21-24 January 2015). Watch Winnie Byanyima discussing #inequality in the BBC World Debate: A Richer World, but for Whom?
- Rising Inequality in the Global South: Practice and Solutions (19 January, 2015). Oxfam and the University of Oxford held a Symposium examining the causes and consequences of uneven economic growth and rising inequality in the global South.
- Wealthiest 1% will soon own more than rest of us combined, Oxfam says
- On sustainable development: Davos can set the tone
- The the scale of global inequality is "simply staggering" ?
- Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?
- Inequality and climate change: Defining challenges of 2015
- Africa: Rising inequality in the Global South - Practice and Solutions?
- Climate change: An issue of justice and human rights
- Inclusive, Sustainable Growth Latin America: The Road Ahead
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