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Winnie Byanyima Appointed Oxfam Boss

Winnie Byanyima, a renowned gender activist and former legislator in the 6th and 7th Parliaments in Uganda, has been appointed Executive Director of Oxfam International, the humanitarian agency has announced.
Winnie Byanyima, a renowned gender activist and former legislator in the 6th and 7th Parliaments in Uganda, has been appointed Executive Director of Oxfam International, the humanitarian agency has announced.

 

Byanyima, who is also wife to former FDC President Dr Kizza Besigye, is expected to provide strategic direction and coordination for the worldwide confederation of Oxfam affiliates when she takes office in April this year.

 

 In a statement, Oxfam describes Byanyima as a grass-roots activist, human rights advocate, senior international public servant, and world recognized expert on women’s rights.

 

The statement goes on to say that Byanyima has held roles that reinforced the governance of the African Union, and she influenced the international agenda at the United Nations and through her leadership in many coalitions of civil society organizations.

 

She is recognized for extensive work in peace-building, budget and electoral reform, and building social coalitions. She is an authority on the gender dimension of climate change, economic policymaking, and social and economic equality. In her earlier career, she founded a still-thriving NGO in Uganda and served three terms as a member of the Ugandan parliament.

 

Oxfam works in 94 countries providing humanitarian relief in crisis, empowering the poor and marginalized people to gain social and economic equality, and campaigning for a more just world.

 

Byanyima was selected after a global search, led by the Chair of Oxfam International, Keith Johnston, with the help of an international executive search firm.

 

Johnson said that the 56-year-old aeronautic engineerstood out as exemplifying Oxfam’s values and ambitions.

 

About her appointment, Byanyima is quoted as saying that the world is witnessing a shift in global development, growing inequality, volatility on many levels, and mounting aspirations and impatience for change. She says she is very proud to be invited to lead an important organization, with its passionate commitment to social justice.

 

Byanyima, a daughter of Boniface Byanyima, former long-serving chairman of the Democratic Party in Uganda, earned engineering degrees in aeronautics and in energy conservation and the environment in the United Kingdom, where she went as a refugee student during Idi Amin regime.

 

She worked for Uganda Airlines before being 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 served as a Member of Parliament for Mbarara Municipality until 2004 when she resigned to join the African Union. In that same period, she founded and led the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a national NGO to champion women’s equal participation in decision-making.

 

From 2004 until 2006, she established and directed a unit for women, gender and development at the African Union Commission as part of a mandate to improve the institution’s governance and equality. In 2006, she became director of the gender team of the United Nations Development Program, working on crucial issues of development, climate change and economic policy.  

 

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