Moiyattu Banya

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For more than a decade, Moiyattu Banya has been working gender and development and women's rights; specifically those of African women, in many forms. As Co-Founder and Director of Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone, she helps girls become change agents and leaders. As Creative Director and Founder of Women Change Africa she documents the stories of uncelebrated African women leaders and entrepreneurs. As a professor in social work at Columbia University she helps graduate students to develop social impact programs. As a professor in Temple University’s Gender and Sexuality Studies department, she teaches undergraduate students the importance of women in radical social movements. As a published writer she unpacks social justice issues relating to women and girls in Africa. As a Board member of the African Women’s Development Fund, she supports the organization’s efforts to make grants in benefit of African women’s rights.

On the outside, it may seem like too much for one woman to accomplish. But when you listen to Banya’s story, you realize she hasn’t any choice but to carry on the legacy of service and advancement her parents began, especially for the children experiencing traumas similar to what she endured. “At this tender young age my life was disrupted by a civil war in my country Sierra Leone,” she shares. “I remember the sounds of bombs in the middle of the night and having to sleep on the floor to avoid stray bullets coming in the house...This shaped my urgency to contribute to creating peaceful societies where women and girls live without any infractions or wars to stop them from growing into who they needed to become. I escaped from the war and had the opportunity to become something and I always promised myself to go back to Sierra Leone and make a difference to contribute to the next generation of leaders...”

Banya is fervently expanding the work of GESL, as well as launching WCA Creatives—a communications company specializing in curating African women’s stories. “I realized that many startup companies led by African women need more support..., they need coaching and brand development as well as training...So now instead of only being the one telling the stories I am teaching women how to tell their own stories.”