Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

CEO, Above Whispers Media Group

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 is a Feminist Activist, Writer, Policy Advocate, Social Sector Specialist and Social Change Philanthropy Practitioner.  She is the CEO of Above Whispers Media Group, which runs Abovewhispers.com, where she writes a weekly column called Loud Whispers. She is alsoa Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Africa Leadership Center, King’s College, London.

 

While she was the Director of Akina Mama waAfrika (AMwA) an African women’s development organisation based in the United Kingdom, Bisi established the African Women's Leadership Institute(AWLI), a regional training and networking forum for young African women, with a regional office in Kampala, Uganda, in1996. 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 around the world.

 

In 2000, Bisico-founded the African Women's Development Fund, (AWDF) - the first Africa-wide grant-making foundation, which supports the work of organizations promoting women's rights in Africa. Since it began grant-making in 2001, AWDF has supported over 2,500 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 across Africa, through its support of grassroots initiatives, policy advocacy, capacity building, and movement building for social justice. Today, AWDF is one of the most respected Women’s Funds in the global philanthropic community. Bisi served as CEO of AWDF from 2001-2010 when she relocated to Nigeria when her husband became Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria in October 2010.

 

A recipient of numerous local and international awards, in 2005, Bisi 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. She is a 2007 recipient of the 'Changing the Face of Philanthropy' award from the Women's Funding Network, USA. 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.Bisi worked with other philanthropy thought leaders to establish the (now known as the Africa Philanthropy Network) in 2009, which is now a leading space for reflection and action on philanthropy in Africa.

 

During the 1st term of her husband,Dr Kayode Fayemi as Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, (2010-2014), Bisi was 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). Bisi became First Lady of Ekiti State for the second time when her husband returned to Ekiti State as Governor (2018-2020), and she continues to be a passionate advocate for the rights of women and girls.She tirelessly campaigns and runs programs against Gender Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and exploitation of children, and she consistently makes the case for women in leadership and decision-making. Through her efforts, Ekiti State now has the most robust legal and policy frameworks in Nigeria for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

 

She currently serves on the Executive Board of the African Women’s Development Fund, and she is Chair of the Advisory Council of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund. She is the author of , ‘, (2013) an autobiography and ‘ (2017). She also co-edited ‘, with Jessica Horn (2008) a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.

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