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, 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. In May 2013, she began a five-year term leading Oxfam International, which provides strategic guidance, support, expertise and coordination across the global organization.