Congratulations to Binta Bajaha, recipient of this year’s Margrit Eichler Student Leadership Award!

Binta is a doctoral candidate working with Dr. Marieme Lo, and Chair of the WGSI Graduate Student Union which has done amazing work this past year. Binta is also being specially recognised in African Studies for her amazing work mentoring African Studies and Black undergraduate students.

Born and raised in The Gambia, Binta Bajaha graduated on the Dean’s List at the University of Western Ontario with a  BA  degree  and Double Major in History and Global Studies. She holds a MSc in Gender, Development and Globalization from  London School of Economics and Politics (LSE ) and is  currently pursuing a PhD at WGSI under the supervision of Prof. Marieme Lo.  Binta’s scholarship focuses on climate  change adaptation, resilience and vulnerabilities drawing upon a critical feminist and intersectional lens  and focusing on the Sahel region in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In  her first year at WGSI, Binta has led the Graduate Student Union as its Chair, revitalizing the GSU and acting as a bridge between graduate students and the Institute’s faculty and administration. Working diligently alongside her colleagues, Binta has invested her talent and energy  in laying a strong institutional foundation so present and future cohorts of WGSI can thrive in a transformational, productive, supportive  and memorable feminist space.  

Overseeing and planning the inaugural WGSI GSU Speaker Series, as well as what was to be the first WGSI Graduate Student Conference before  the COVID-19 confinement, Binta’s tenacity in overcoming challenges, in the most inclusive and innovative  ways, has proven the bedrock of her leadership qualities and talents.  Alongside her Chair leadership, Teaching Assistant responsibilities as well as brilliantly completing her entire coursework load in her first year, Binta was able to maintain stellar academic records, showcasing an innate ability to efficiently balance competing priorities to demonstrate  outstanding community citizenship and leadership.  Her student leadership role extends  her professional leadership at an  early stage of her career in  gender justice  with UN Women in New York and  World Food  Programme  in Rome.  Her last position  before starting her doctoral  program consisted of  heading the Gender Unit in the World Food Programme’s $250 million yearly emergency response to the Rohingya refugee crises in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Leading gender-transformative programmatic interventions in ensuring Rohingya women, men, boys and girls have their needs met in a dignified manner, Binta worked using an inter-agency approach to create resilience and livelihood projects for women and adolescent girls that are at risk of gender-based violence within the refugee camps.