Co-Founder – African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and Former First Lady of Ekiti State
Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Feminist Activist, Gender and Development Specialist, Policy Advocate, Social Sector expert, and Writer. She has a BA (1984) and MA (1988) in History from the University of Ife, Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University). She also received a MA in Gender and Society (1992) from Middlesex University, UK. She has a PhD (Honoris Causa) in Sociology from Tai Solarin University of Education (2014). She served as 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 to 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 which has produced well over 6,000 women leaders across Africa. She co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) – the first Africa- wide grant-making foundation for women’s organisations based in Ghana – and served as the First CEO from 2001 to 2010. AWDF has supported thousands of women’s rights organisations in 42 African countries with millions of dollars in grants. She is founder of Above Whispers Media Group and Above Whispers Foundation, specializing in leadership development for women, and she runs an online community called Abovewhispers.com. She also runs ‘The Wrapper Network’, an online mentoring and support program for over 4,000 young women. She served as a United Nations Women (UN Women) Nigeria Senior Advisor (2017-2018) and is currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Africa Leadership Center, King’s College, London. Bisi was First Lady of Ekiti State for two terms when her husband Dr. Kayode Fayemi served as Governor from 2010 to 2014 and from 2018 to 2022. An experienced Policy Advocate, HE Erelu Fayemi led the campaign in Ekiti State to domesticate the National Gender Policy into the Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Law (GBV Law 2011, revised in October 2019). She was also instrumental to the enactment of several gender- oriented legislations, including the Equal Opportunities Bill (2013), HIV Anti-Stigma Bill (2014), Treatment, Care and Protection for Sexually Abused Minors Bill (2020), the Ekiti State Mental Health Law (2021), the Ekiti State Gender Composition Law (2022) and the Multiple Births Trust Fund Law (2022). As a result of her efforts, Ekiti State has one of the most comprehensive legal and policy frameworks for the protection of women’s rights in Nigeria. She also used her platform to promote women into leadership positions and her support helped change the political landscape for women in Ekiti State. She was Chair, Nigeria Governors Wives’ Forum (2020- 2022) and under her leadership, the NGWF became a visible and active platform for the protection of women and children. It was the NGWF that facilitated the State of Emergency against Gender-Based Violence declared by the Nigeria Governors Forum in June 2020. She is currently a board member of the African Women’s Development Fund, a member of both the Regional and National Steering Committees of the African Women Leaders Network, Board member of Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) Nigeria, Board Member of St. Ives Communications (owners of Women’s Radio, Nigeria), Chair, Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Governors Wives’ Forum, and she serves on the Governing Council of Elizade University, Nigeria. Recently, she was appointed as a member of the High Level Presidential Advisory Council on Gender. Bisi is the author of ‘Speaking for Myself’: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism in Africa (2013), ‘Speaking above a Whisper’, (2013) an autobiography, ‘Loud Whispers’ (2017), ‘Where is your Wrapper?’ (2020), ‘Demand and Supply’ (2023) and ‘A Tray of Locust Beans (2023). She also co-edited ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, with Jessica Horn (2008) a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.