Uganda’s own, Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Graces the Forbes Woman Africa Magazine Top Cover

Winnie Byanyima
Optimized-winnie new

The magazine is honoring 50 of Africa’s most influential women. Winnie Byanyima is on the front of the March 2020 edition beside many remarkable significant African women. Similarly, she shares the spotlight with Rebecca Enonchong, Cameroon’s development contractor, founder and CEO of AppsTech, Bonang Mattheba, media information, and technology entrepreneur and Graca Machel all dressed red, clearly, tagging “The Power Principle”.

Winnie Byanyima is married to a presidential candidate, a political opposition leader, a retired colonel, and a doctor, Kiiza Besigye. Furthermore, she is a diplomat and aeronautical engineer that has led many other global entities including OXFAM.

Winnie Byanyima

How they Came to Rank on the Forbes’ List

Forbes Women Africa certainly chose influential, consistent and impactful women leaders of Africa. Winnie Byanyima, the UNAIDS executive director, was listed among the “50 Most Powerful Women” in the Forbes Africa Magazine.

Forbes Africa is a drama observer and critic of Africa’s business sector. The magazine gives its audience a new view, linking lines, creating trends and moving beyond the apparent. In so doing, it offers vivid, by-depth, and compelling insights by examining from an African perspective to international and domestic issues.

“We filtered through several acknowledgment lists, performed our internal research to come up with new faces, and short-listed recommendations from our African editorial staff, incorporating our expertise, authority, continuity, and most significantly, influence metrics,” reported Forbes.

Inside the lives of the most powerful women in Africa

Graca Machel also achieved the first-of-a-kind pan-African recap of Africa’s 50 most powerful women on the cover of the March magazine.

Bonang Mattheba is a South African entrepreneur and a reality television host with a reality TV show. The 32-year-old made a significant impact on African entertainment as well as the corporate. Also, Bonang Matheba is expected to address the summit at the Durban Leading Women’s Conference for the Forbes Woman Africa 2020. Bonang posted on her Instagram page;

“What an honor….@forbesafrica’s 50 Most Powerful Women… March 2020 issue, on shelves today! We praise God. @forbeswomanafrica.”

Rebecca Enonchong is popular in Africa for supporting technology whereas Irene Charnely is a prominent South African trade, unionist, and businesswoman.

Uganda’s own, Winnie Byanyima

The global dynamic manager, Winnie Byanyima, holds the most exceptional CV. She has served as Uganda’s first female aviation engineer, lived as a guerrilla fighter in the bush, played a role as a diplomatic politician, and also works on universal human rights.

Besides, Ms. Byanyima has been a gunner of global fiscal dodgers in her current job. More and more multinationals are planning their affairs to funnel the income into low-tax countries. One of the businesses evidently blamed for contributing a pittance in UK corporate tax, although it is in massive profits, is Starbucks, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

A diplomatic politician

In Lima last October, the global finance ministers decided to alter the rules for taxing income at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). They cautioned multinationals not to use their scale and cross-border influence to avoid taxes any longer. This could increase tax returns by $250 trillion per year, as projected by the OECD.

The latest report from Oxfam argues that multinational companies rob the African States using various tricks to cut tax coverage out of $11 trillion in 2010 alone. The Executive Director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, stresses that “Africa is steadily losing billions of dollars because its share of revenue is not paid by multinational companies. If that money is spent on education and healthcare, communities and economies all over the continent would prosper.”

Winnie Byanyimas family

Winnie Byanyima’s past

Ms. Byanyima brought up amid oppressive military rule of Idi Amin due to the chaos of the post-independence Uganda politics, her parents being both humanitarian activists. Her father, a high school teacher, Mzee Boniface Byanyima, became a parliamentarian, opposing this system of corruption and oppression. The parliament was dissolved and Mr. Byanyima was imprisoned. His wife Gertrude worked to encourage the education of women, to create women’s clubs and to introduce education initiatives.

The late Mzee Boniface Byanyima

She was a strong adversary to arranged marriages which mostly sheltered girls at home in the household. In apprehension of Uganda’s protection for their daughter, Byanyimas, however, obtained a fake passport for their daughter and flew her away from Uganda. She went first from Kenya, then to England, where she gained the identity of asylum.

Ms. Byanyima studied in Manchester and earned an Aeronautical Engineering Bachelor’s degree. By the point Ms. Byanyima qualified from Manchester and Cranfield Universities with degrees, Milton Obote’s civilian regime had succeeded Idi Amin. She came home and took up an engineering job at Uganda Airlines.

Her Interaction with Rebels

The upbringing of Ms. Byanyima had influenced her with a strong political interest and a deep faith in human rights. During her service at the airline, she assisted the resistance movement to overthrow the government by interacting with rebels and sending messages and information.

Winnie Byanyima and her husband, Besigye

When the spy agencies of the government announced her relation with the resistance, Byanyima was obliged to go underground and leave Kampala. She lived in the isolated southern part of the nation for the next couple of years with rebel forces. This time she claims she developed a deeper insight into human rights, equality and the roots of suffering. The insurgents had a well-defined vision of the nation they longed to build, shifting Uganda from its colonial legacy to a free and democratic country.

Dr. Besigye’s childhood friend, Yoweri Museveni, was one of the opposition leaders. Mr. Museveni became president in 1986, ousting the existing government while leading the NRA, which later became NRM (National Resistance Movement). In 1986, when assuming the president’s seat, Mr. Museveni appointed Winnie Byanyima’s current husband, the 29-year-old, Dr. Besigye, as Internal Affairs Minister.

Winnie’s Life as a Politician

Upon her return home in 1994, Ms. Byanyima committed herself to development in the region, where she first served as a Parliamentarian for ten years. Three years earlier, she had entered into the foreign service representing Uganda in France and at UNESCO in Paris.

She also managed to establish the Foundation for Women in a democracy that promotes gender balance in politics. Throughout that time, she established a women parliamentary caucus.

Winnie Byanyima and her husband, Col. Kizza Besigye

Dr. Kizza Besigye married Ms. Byanyima in 1998. He was in charge of maintaining the well-being of the guerrillas of the National Resistance Army. He was also Yoweri Museveni’s doctor and a close friend. 

The life of Dr. Col. Kizza Besigye, Winnie Byanyima’s Husband.

Nonetheless, the couple was dissatisfied with the governmental system of the “no-party” National Resistance Movement. Ministers and other officials had become highly corrupt. Dr. Besigye ultimately challenged presidential leadership against Mr. Museveni in 2001. Mr. Museveni won the elections.


Dr. Besigye protested the election outcomes by alleging major bribery and electoral intimidation. Although the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that different people disrupted the voting through massive fraud, his appeal to annul the election was rejected.

He fled to the USA for fear of his life. When he returned in 2005, he announced he had left to pursue his political involvement and stop landing behind bars or six meters below. Subsequently, Dr. Besigye was charged and imprisoned for treason.

Besigye's Arrest

Mr. Besigye has run for presidency 4 times in a row every five years but in futility. Ms. Byanyima served in Uganda’s Parliament, following her husband’s exile, until 2004 when she resigned to head the African Union Directorate of Women, Gender and Development in Addis Ababa. In 2013, Mrs. Byanyima was named Oxfam’s Executive Director. Two years earlier, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had hired her.

UNAIDS Executive Director

In comparison to the others on the cover, 30 years ago, Ms. Winnie Byanyima was a defender of disadvantaged groups and women. Additionally, in 2004, she was appointed Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission, serving on the Protocol of Women’s Rights in Africa. This is equally a human rights mechanism that has become an essential tool for decreasing the significant negative impact of HIV on women’s lives in Africa.

On 14 August 2019, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Winnie Byahima as Executive Director of UNAIDS. Ms. Byanyima soon assumed her functions as an Executive Director on 1 November 2019. These women certainly earned their place on Forbes’ rankings, the most popular and influential social media platform in Africa.



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