By Mubiru Ivan

On Thursday, Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima attacked the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for infringing on the rights of LGBT community.

In a tweet, Byanyima said Kadaga is denying gay people their rights in order to gain some popularity.

“Shame on speaker Kadaga 4 denying vulnerable people rights, in order to gain some popularity,” she said.

Internationally, Byanyima has been hailed as an exceptional human rights advocate, social activist, campaigner for equality and a staunch supporter of women’s rights.

Born 13 January ,1959 in Mbarara District, Byanyima, was the first female Ugandan to become an aeronautical engineer.

She a daughter of the late Boniface Byanyima who was one time the National Chairman of the Democratic Party in Uganda and the Gertrude Byanyima who was a teacher by profession.

Byanyima went to Mount St.Mary’s College Namagunga, Mukono district where she completed her secondary school education.

After secondary school, she joined the University of Manchester where she attained a Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Engineering and she ultimately became the first female Ugandan to become an Aeronautical Engineer. She then worked with the Uganda Airlines as a flight engineer. After completing her Bachelors degree, Byanyima joined Cranfield University where she obtained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and she specialized in energy conservation.

When President Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) group started the Bush war, Byanyima quit her job with Uganda Airlines and then joined the armed struggle.

Museveni was partly raised in Byanyima’s family. So it was no surprise when she, her husband Dr. Kizza Besigye and Museveni were combatants during the bush war from the year 1981- 1986. She has one child, Anselm with Dr Besigye.

After the war that brought the NRA to power, she was appointed as Uganda’s ambassador to France from  1989 to 1994.

After her service as the ambassador, Byanyima returned home and started participating in Ugandan politics.

During the drafting of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Byanyima worked as a member of the constituent Assembly.

From the year 1994 to the year 2004, she was a member of Parliament representing Mbarara Municipality.

She was appointed as the Director of the Directorate of Women, Gender and Development at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia after her stint with Parliament.

She then joined the  United Nations Development Programme in November 2006 as director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development policy.

In the year 2013, Oxfam announced Byanyima as the next executive director of Oxfam International where she replaced Jeremy Hobbs. She assumed the role at Oxfam on May 1, 2013.

In 2017 she accepted another second term from Oxfam International for another five years after the first term  expired.

In the year 2015, Byanyima was co-chair of the World Economic Forum that was held in Davos.

She used the platform that was offered by the forum to press action for the widening gap between the rich and poor people.

 In the year 2016, Byanyima was appointed by the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the High Level panel on Access to Medicines, co-chaired by Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland, and Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana.

She has five siblings who are Anthony, Martha, Olivia, Edith and Abraham Byanyima.

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