“Through being part of these struggles of injustice, I’ve learned to find my place. To know that I’m just one person with a lifespan that’s so many years–not so long–and that these struggles continue for generations. You do your bit and you pass on the baton to others. You’re contributing to a historic struggle, and I think young people are going to challenge inequality. We’re going to see some revolutions that equalize. Just like how out of crisis people rebuild, this huge inequality is going to cause a reset—and we’re going to see young people lead that.”
– Winnie Byanyima, episode 211 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Winnie Byanyima has devoted her life to public service. A trailblazer in the fight for gender equality and racial justice, she led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus and worked as the executive director of Oxfam. She currently serves as the Executive Director of UNAIDS, working to end the 40-year-long AIDS epidemic and the inequalities in our healthcare systems.
Winnie joins us this week to discuss growing up in Uganda under a brutal dictatorship (3:26), eventually fleeing to gain an education in England (10:57), finding joy in student organizing (19:57) and connecting with young, like-minded activists (25:50). She also shares her experiences spearheading women leadership within the Parliament of Uganda (30:11), challenging income and healthcare inequalities (37:57), and the importance of collective action (45:50). Finally, she reflects on her childhood peers (53:13), on being a survivor (55:42), and her optimism about the future (58:27).
- Follow Winnie Byanyima on Twitter.
- Learn more about her work on the UNAIDS website.
- Follow UNAIDS on Instagram (@unaidsglobal).
- Winnie speaking on poverty and inequality at Davos, 2019.
- As quoted, listen to Ta-Nahesi Coates and Jenna Wortham on the The Archives Project.
- Listen to our past conversations with Dolores Huerta, Janaya Future Khan, and Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.