Olufunke Baruwa is a seasoned Nigerian gender and development expert, feminist and public speaker with a focus on gender advocacy, women’s rights, civil society strengthening, public policy and governance. For almost two decades, she has been at the forefront of social policies and reforms in Nigeria working with government, civil society, and international development partners. She is renowned for her advocacy on the inclusion of females in strategic political, social and economic positions in Nigeria.
Funke was educated at the University of Abuja (BSc Business Administration) and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (MBA), and completed further courses at the University of East Anglia (Public Policy & Management) and the University of York (Gender Short Course). She is currently pursuing an MA in Corruption and Governance at the University of Sussex.
From 2000 to 2015, she was a Program Officer at the defunct Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund and National Poverty Eradication Programme; Gender Advisor at the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs (now SDGs); and as a Technical Assistant on Research, Policy & Planning in the Ministry of Communication and Digital Technology. In 2015, she was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund Nigerian Women Trust Fund – a technical and financial resource for women in politics and decision making in Nigeria where she set the strategic vision and mobilized resources. Prior to assuming the role of C.E.O of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund she served on the Board of Directors of the Fund from 2011-2015 and in 2018, she was appointed co-Chair of the Board of Directors.
Until June 2020, she served as the Project Management Specialist, Civil Society and Media for the US Agency for International Development (USAID/Nigeria) where she designed and pioneered multi-million-dollar civil society strengthening projects with a gender inclusive lens.
Funke is currently the Program Officer for the Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice (GREJ-I) at the Ford Foundation’s Office for West Africa in Lagos, Nigeria where she leads the Foundation’s commitment to supporting women’s rights to address violence against women and girls.
Named as one of the ‘17 women changing the world’ by the Institute for Inclusive Development at its 2015 Colloquium held at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Funke is a member of the Women Waging Peace Network – a consortium of women leaders from across the world who are called upon to serve as negotiators, experts, advocates, policymakers, and any other roles that help foster human rights and peace. She has been widely recognized for her work with the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund by The Guardian, She Leads Africa, and other publications and has received several accolades for her advocacy on the inclusion of females in strategic economic, social and political positions in Nigeria.
In her free time, Funke mentors and encourages young women to be influencers and change-makers in their community. She pioneered the Young Women Mentorship and Leaders Program and the Young Women in Politics Forum. She is also a member of the Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) and sits on the board of many Nigerian and international foundations and NGOs.