Winnie Byanyima

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Winnie Byanyima
Born (1957-01-01) 1 January 1957 (age 57)
Mbarara, Uganda
Residence New York City, New York State, USA
Nationality Ugandan
Ethnicity Munyankole
Citizenship Uganda
Education Degree in aeronautical engineering
Occupation Engineer, Politician & Diplomat
Years active 1981 — present
Known for Politics
Home town Mbarara
Religion Roman Catholic

Winifred "Winnie" Byanyima (born 13 January 1959 ) is a Ugandan aeronautical engineer, politician and diplomat. She served as the Director of the Gender Team, in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), from 2006,[1] and in May 2013 was appointed Executive Director of Oxfam International.[2]


She was born in Mbarara District, in Western Uganda. Her parents are Boniface Byanyima, one-time National Chairman of the Democratic Party in Uganda, and Gertrude Byanyima, a former school teacher, who died in November 2008.[3] Winnie Byanyima attended Mount Saint Mary's College Namagunga, in Buikwe District. She went on to obtain a degree in aeronautical engineering, outside Uganda, becoming the first female Ugandan to become an Aeronautical Engineer.

Work experience[edit]

Following the completion of her training as an aeronautical engineer, Ms. Byanyima worked as a flight engineer for the now-defunct Uganda Airlines. When Yoweri Museveni started the 1981 - 1986 NRA War, the Ugandan Bush War, Byanyima left her job and joined him. Museveni and Byanyima had grown up together at the Byanyima household when both of them were young.[4]

After the NRA won that war, Byanyima became an active participant in Ugandan politics. She served as a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Ugandan 1995 Constitution. She then served two consecutive terms as a Member of Parliament, representing Mbarara Municipality, from 1994 until 2004. In 2004, she was appointed Director of the Directorate of Women, Gender and Development at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She served in that capacity until she was appointed as Director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the UNDP, in November 2006.[5]

In January 2013, Byanyima was announced as the next Executive Director of Oxfam International,[6] replacing her predecessor, Jeremy Hobbs who held the position since 2001, and as of 2014 heads the International Non-Governmental Organisations Accountability Charter. Winnie began her five year directorship at Oxfam on May 1, 2013.[7]

Personal details[edit]

Winnie Byanyima is married to Kizza Besigye, the former Chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) political party in Uganda. Together, they are the parents of one son called Anselm. Byanyima is a member of the FDC party, although she has significantly reduced her participation in partisan Ugandan politics since she became a Ugandan diplomat in 2006.[8] She has five siblings: Edith, Anthony, Martha, Abraham and Olivia.[9]


External links[edit]