Former Chair – Zainab Bangura (Sierra Leone)

Country: Sierra Leone

Zainab Hawa Bangura served as the Chairperson of the World Movement for Democracy’s Steering Committee from 2016 to January 2020. From 2012 to 2017, Bangura served as Under -Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual violence in Conflict.

Bangura  has nearly 30 years of policy, diplomatic, and practical experience in the field of governance and conflict , including conflict zones in all five continents. This includes work on elections, corruption, gender, international cooperation/relations, peacekeeping and peace operations and post conflict recovery. Ms Bangura started her career as an Insurance Executive. Seeing her country fall into the grip of a military junta changed the course of her life. She spurred to social activism – leaving the cooperate corner of office to take to the street becoming a leading social activist in her country.  She worked through a local organisation she created –  “ Women Organised for an Enlightened Nation” to mobilise market women for the country’s first democratic elections in almost 3 decades. After the elections she created the “Campaign for Good Governance,” Sierra Leone’s first national non-profit organization to work on consolidation of democracy and governance, monitoring, documenting and reporting of human rights violations, peace building and reconciliations, corruption, and gender empowerment.

Between 2005 – 2007 she served as a Director and Chief of Civil Affairs in the UN Mission in Liberia, where she was mandated to work on the restoration of state authority and peace and reconciliation in the war torn country. When President Ernest Koroma won the 2007 Presidential elections, he appointed her as his first Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. A position she served until she moved to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in in 2010, where she was widely commended for improving  service delivery in the sector, particularly in terms of maternal and infant care,

Her humanitarian work has gained her numerous awards and accolades, as well as 4 Honorary doctorates degrees from a range of distinguished universities in the UK and the US. In 2014, she was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine 100’s Global Thinkers. In 2015, she was noted as one of New African Magazine’s 100 most influential Africans. In 2016, she received the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award from the George Town University Institute for Women, Peace and Security – for advancing women in peace and security. During the award ceremony she was described by Secretary Clinton as a “ Trail Blazer”.