Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

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Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi (cropped).jpg
Born (1963-06-11) 11 June 1963 (age 58)
Liverpool, England
Alma materObafemi Awolowo University
Middlesex University
OccupationFeminist activist, Gender Specialist, Policy Advocate, writer
Known forCo-founding the African Women's Development Fund
Spouse(s)Kayode Fayemi

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi (born 11 June 1963) is First Lady of Ekiti State, Nigeria as wife of the Ekiti State Governor 2019–2023. She was previously Ekiti State First Lady in 2011–2015. A British-Nigerian feminist activist, writer and policy advocate, in 2001 she co-founded the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), the first Pan-African grant-making organisation. She serves as a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and was appointed as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King's College, University of London in 2017.[1] She is CEO of Above Whispers Limited, and runs an online community called

When her husband Dr. Kayode Fayemi took office as Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, she became 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, revised in October 2019), an Equal Opportunities Bill (2013) and a HIV Anti-Stigma Bill (2014). She continues to work on the implementation and sustainability of these initiatives as First Lady of Ekiti State for the second time.

She serves on the Executive Boards of the African Women's Development Fund. She is Chair of the Advisory Council of the Nigerian Women's Trust Fund and also serves on the Governing Council of Elizade University in Nigeria. She is currently Chair of the Gender Based Violence Law Management Committee, Ekiti State and Chair, Ekiti State AIDS Control Agency. She is also on the Steering Committee of the Regional African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and a member of AWLN-Nigeria Steering Steering Committee where she serves as an Adviser.

Adeleye-Fayemi is the author of Loud Whispers (2017), Speaking for Myself (2013), and an autobiography entitled Speaking above a Whisper (2013). She also co-edited Voice, Power and Soul.


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi was born in Liverpool, England, on 11 June, 1963. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Ife, now the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. She also received an MA in Gender and Society (1992) from Middlesex University, UK.  She is currently CEO, Above Whispers Limited, specializing in leadership development for women, and she runs an online community called, where she writes a weekly column called "Loud Whispers". She was until recently a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and was recently appointed as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King's College, University of London.[2]


She served as the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women, based in London, UK, from 1991-2001 as well as Executive Director of the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), the first Africa-wide grant-making fund which supports the work of organizations promoting women's rights in Africa, from 2001-2010.[3][4]

During her years in the UK, Bisi Fayemi worked in the Department of Health as an Administrative Officer. She then became the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in London, UK, with an Africa regional office in Kampala, Uganda, from 1991- 2001. While she was the Director of AMwA, she established the African Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI), a training and networking forum for young African women. The leadership institute she developed has become such a powerful legacy that today the AWLI has trained more than 6,000 women across Africa, most of whom are now in senior decision-making positions as Ministers, Members of Parliaments, academics, civil society leaders and employees of international organisations.

Adeleye-Fayemi has been associated with a number of international women's rights and philanthropy organisations, including as co-chair of the International Network of Women's Funds, president of the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), and chair of the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC).[5] She has also been on the Board of Trustees for Comic Relief (UK).[6]

Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, delivered Adeleye-Fayemi's 50th birthday lecture in 2013. Titled "Leading the Change: The Journey of an African Woman", the lecture detailed how Adeleye-Fayemi's support was foundational to Gbowee's work in Liberia, eventually leading to her Nobel Prize. Gbowee talked about how Adeleye-Fayemi, as head of AWDF, had supported the women's peace movement in Liberia in its infancy, saying: "We crave change, but wait for someone to come and save us. Most times, our reluctance to creating change and acting accordingly means that we don't change perception about us. But, Bisi, you have helped us to achieve change. You have used your position to sew dreams and show that change is possible and helped to set our minds to it. That I won the Nobel prize is because of people like you. That day, you didn't see me. You saw a sister. Today we say, 'Thank you'. You have helped to set our minds to it."[7]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Kayode Fayemi, who went on to become Governor of Ekiti State in 2010, and again in 2019; the two of them met while they were students and they have one son together, Folajimi Fayemi (born circa 1994).

Awards and recognition[edit]

Adeleye-Fayemi was given the "Changing the Face of Philanthropy" award by the Women's Funding Network in 2007, and was named one of the 20 most influential African women in 2009 by New African magazine.[8][9] In 2011, Women Deliver listed her as one of the top 100 people in the world, advancing the rights of women and girls.[10]

In 2019, she was awarded the 2018 Zik Leadership Prize for humanitarian Leadership by Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC).

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ "King's College London - Ms. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Ms. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi", Visiting Senior Research Fellows, African Leadership Centre, King's College London.
  3. ^ "African Women's Development Fund (AWDF)". Newfield Foundation. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  4. ^ "About AWDF 10 Years of Leadership and Empowerment for African Women". Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Profile About Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi". Ashoka Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi Profile". Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Peacemaker Was Here To Fete A Feminist". Punch Nigeria. 18 October 2013. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  8. ^ "University for a Night 2011: David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award Honorees". Synergos. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Women of Influence". New African. 9 June 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Women Deliver 100: 26–50". Women Deliver. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  11. ^ "For Adeleye-Fayemi, time for Loud Whispers". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  12. ^ Adeleye-Fayemi (2013) Speaking Above A Whisper, Ibadan, Nigeria: Amandla Consulting.
  13. ^ Jimoh, Michael (27 October 2013). "First Lady with a Difference". This Day. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  14. ^ Ajibade, Kunle (21 October 2013). "Championing the Cause of African Women". City Voice. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.

External links[edit]

  • "Know Your African Feminists: Bisi Adeleye Fayemi". 4th African Feminist Forum Interview Series, April 2016, Harare, Zimbabwe. YouTube.
  • [1] The African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) at the 44th Session of the Commission on Population and Development
  • [2] Nigerian Women Leaders call for more involvement of women to promote peaceful elections
  • [3] Fayemi's wife wins Zik leadership award
  • [4] Erelu Fayemi, two governors, former Ghanaian President win Zik leadership prize
  • [5] Mrs. Fayemi receives Zik Prize award