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Zainab Bangura

Distinguished Fellow

Portrait of Zainab Bangura

Zainab Bangura is a relentless advocate for conflict resolution and reconciliation and the protection of men and women who face sexual violence during times of war and conflict. She is an internationally recognised diplomat and champion for democratisation, the political empowerment of women and human rights. Her bravery has led her to confront the powerful, give hope to the powerless and make the international community take notice.

Zainab Bangura started her career in the private sector as an Insurance Executive.

During the 1990s, Bangura co-founded Sierra Leone’s first non-partisan women’s rights group, Women Organized for a Morally Enlightened Nation, which helped remove the military junta from power in 1996 through the first national election in nearly three decades. She went on to co-found the Campaign for Good Governance, which worked to promote democracy and monitor, document and report human rights violations, especially against women and girls. She was instrumental in advancing understanding of crimes of ‘Forced Marriage’ in International law. Bangura later founded the National Accountability Group, now Transparency International (SL) to fight corruption in Sierra Leone.

In 2007 Bangura was appointed Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Minister in President Koroma’s government, and became Minister of Health and Sanitation in 2010.

From 2012 to 2017 Bangura was the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence and Conflict. During her leadership, she ensured the training of National security forces in conflict zones on conflict-related sexual violence. Her efforts led to improved strategies to combat sexual violence and improved access to services for sexual violence victims.