Musimbi Kanyoro

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Musimbi Kanyoro
Born30 November 1953 (1953-11-30) (age 67)
Nationality Kenya
Known forPresident/CEO, Global Fund for Women

Musimbi Kanyoro (born 30 November 1953) is a Kenyan human rights advocate who served as the CEO and President of the Global Fund for Women from 2011 until 2019.[1]

Kanyoro also serves with former President of Ireland Mary Robinson on several projects, including the Board of Directors of Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Kanyoro was born in Migori county, Kenya. Born in a rural area, Kanyoro moved into suburban Nairobi where she attended the Alliance girls school. She attributes being in a girls-only space as having a powerful way of building and shaping confidence in her early life.

Growing up in the 1970s, her focus along with the African Continent was the liberation of South Africa. "She was a student when she joined the movement against apartheid which led her to fight for women and girls".[3][4]

She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Nairobi and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. Kanyoro later earned a doctorate in feminist theology at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.[5] She received three honorary doctorate degrees. She was also a visiting scholar of Hebrew and the Old Testament at Harvard.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Musimbi Kanyoro at the Global Fund For Women's Dinner in May 2013 in New York


Kanyoro with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

From 1982 to 1997, Kanyoro served in the Lutheran World Federation as its executive secretary for Women in Church and Society. She also worked as a translation consultant for the United Bible Societies. From 1998 to 2007 Kanyoro became the first woman from the continent of Africa to serve as the YWCA's World Secretary General.[4]

Kanyoro was director of the Population and Reproductive Health Program of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from 2007 to 2011.[1] From 2018 until 2019, she served on an Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change at Oxfam, co-chaired by Zainab Bangura and Katherine Sierra.[6]

Other activities[edit]

  • Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), Member of the Reference Group[7]
  • UNFPA/IPPF High-Level task force for Reproductive Health 2015, Member
  • Global Philanthropy Committee of the Council of Foundations, Member[8]
  • Aspen Institute Council for Women Leaders for Reproductive Health, Member
  • Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Member of the International Advisory Council[9]
  • United World Colleges, Chair of the UWC International Board[10]

Kanyoro served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Population and Health Research Centre, and was for seven years the Chair of the Board of ISIS Work. She also serves on the boards of CARE,[11] Intra Health,[12] CHANGE and Legacy Memory Bank,[13] and is a member of the World Health Organization.


  • 1999 – Human Rights Award[14]
  • 1999 – Doctor of Divinity (honorary), Trinity Lutheran Seminary, (TLS) USA, for significant contribution to Christian Theology
  • 2000 – The Wittenberg Award[15]
  • 2005 – designated a State Commendations of Kenya|Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS).[16]
  • 2005 – Women of Substance Award[17]
  • 2005 – Global Leadership Award,[18] World Vision and International AIDS Trust, USA
  • 2005 – Nominee, 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize,[19]
  • 2006 - Women, Leadership and Human Dignity Award[20]
  • 2008 - Inaugural Lecturer: Nelson Mandela Lecture Series[21]
  • 2011 – Changing the Face of Philanthropy[22]
  • 2012 - National Council for Research on Women 2012[23]


  • Dube, Musa and Musimbi R.A. Kanyoro, eds. Grant me justice!: HIV/AIDS & gender readings of the Bible. Cluster Publications, 2004. ISBN 978-1570756009
  • Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A. and Nyambura J. Njoroge, eds. Groaning in Faith: African women in the household of God. Nairobi: Acton Publishers. Papers From the Interfaith Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, 1996. ISBN 978-9966888242
  • Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A., ed. In search of a round table: gender, theology & church leadership. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997. ISBN 2-8254-1209-0
  • Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A. and Nyambura J. Njoroge, eds. A decade of solidarity with the Bible : decade festival : visions beyond 1998. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998.
  • Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A., Introducing Feminist Cultural Hermeneutics: An African Perspective. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0829814996
  • Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A., Forward to The alternative Luther : Lutheran theology from the subaltern, edited by Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen. Minneapolis: Fortress Academic, 2019.
  • Oduyoye, Mercy Amba and Musimbi R.A. Kanyoro, eds. The Will to Arise: Women, Tradition, and the Church in Africa. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1597524742.


  1. ^ a b "A Discussion with Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO and President of the Global Fund for Women". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  2. ^ "International Board of Directors, Ethical Globalization Initiative". 3 May 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Star Power at a Global Women's Conference". The New York Times. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Biography of those awarded" (PDF). Kenya Revenue Agency. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  5. ^ Lowery, Stephanie A. (22 May 2020). "9 African Women Theologians You Should Know About". The GlobalChurch Project. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  6. ^ Oxfam announces Zainab Bangura and Katherine Sierra to co-lead Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct Archived 26 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine Oxfam, press release of 16 March 2018.
  7. ^ FP2020 Reference Group Archived 15 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine Family Planning 2020 (FP2020).
  8. ^ "Global Philanthropy". Council on Foundations. January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  9. ^ International Advisory Council Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
  10. ^ "Musimbi Kanyoro Appointed Chair of UWC International Board". November 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  11. ^ "CARE Announces Board Member Musimbi Kanyoro". October 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Musimbi Kanyoro Joins Intra Health International Board of Directors". September 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Musimbi Kanyoro Joins Board of Legacy Memory Bank". November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  14. ^ "presented by Church Women United, USA, in recognition of commitment and dedication to global human rights of women". September 1999. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  15. ^ "presented by the Luther Institute, USA in recognition of outstanding service to church and society". September 2000. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Selected Gazette Notices From Vol. CVII-No.85". Republic of Kenya. 9 December 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  17. ^ "African Women's Development Fund, Accra, Ghana". April 2005. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  18. ^ "World Vision and International AIDS Trust, USA" (PDF). March 2005. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Nominee, 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize". September 2005. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  20. ^ "for significant contribution to advancement of human dignity, presented by Birmingham-South College, Birmingham, Alabama, USA" (PDF). April 2006. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  21. ^ "presented by the University of South Australia and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, Adelaide, Australia". 14 October 2008. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  22. ^ "presented by the Women's Funding Network, San Francisco, California, USA" (PDF). 7–9 April 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  23. ^ "30-year anniversary celebrating 30 outstanding women". May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2013.

External links[edit]