After close on 30 years of service at the very highest levels, domestically and internationally, Sierra Leone’s Zainab Hawa Bangura has graciously agreed to become AGJA’s newest member and add her invaluable voice, expertise and experience to the Group’s already formidable asset base. Her early beginnings in the field of insurance soon gave way to a lifetime devoted to social development, governance, international co-operation, conflict-resolution, accountability and peacekeeping.
Ms. Bangura is a dynamic civil society and human rights campaigner and pro- democracy activist, with in-depth knowledge of and insight into sexual- and gender-based violence. Indeed, she has wide-ranging experience of engaging with state and non- state actors, including rebel groups, on sexual-violence- related issues. Her unrelenting commitment to women’s rights, democracy and the fight against corruption and impunity is eloquently borne out by her record as Executive Director of the National Accountability Group, Chair and Co-founder of the Movement for Progress Party of Sierra Leone, and Co-ordinator and Co-founder of the Campaign for Good Governance.
After a two-year stint heading up the Civil Affairs Section of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, Ms. Bangura became only the second woman ever to hold the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Sierra Leone, in which capacity she also acted as Chief Adviser and Spokesperson of the President on bilateral and international issues. These initial three years in office were followed by a further two as the country’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, before being appointed United Nations Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, a position she was to retain until March 2017, during which time she also served as Chair of the interagency network, UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict.
In recognition of the selfless — and seemingly — tireless contribution that she has made over the course of her life, Zainab Bangura has received the Africa International Award of Merit for Leadership, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, the Bayard Rustin Humanitarian Award, the Human Rights Award from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Award, and the African American Institute’s Distinguished Alumna Award.