Speakers

Zeinab Eyega

Zeinab Eyega, is the Executive Director and Founder of Sauti Yetu Center for African Women. Sauti Yetu means (Our Voice in Swahili). Sauti Yetu is a community-based organization in New York City that works to empower immigrant African women and their families and to advance protection for women and girls against various forms of gender-based violence. Ms. Eyega has provided oversight, management, and leadership in developing the strategic focus of Sauti Yetu’s programs and operations. Her projects include the provision of direct services, public policy analysis, community engagement and advocacy, and fundraising. She is originally from southern Sudan and received her Bachelor’s degree from the School for International Training in Vermont and a graduate degree in Health Policy from the New School University. In addition to publishing, teaching, and public speaking, Ms. Eyega has many years of experience in developing training and educational materials, facilitating numerous cross-cultural competency workshops for health care providers, and hosting reproductive health promotion seminars for African immigrant and refugee communities throughout the United States.

Her commitment to the advancement of African women and girls was recognized in 2004 by the Open Society Institute, which awarded her a prestigious Soros Community Fellowship Award and she was recognized by NYC Mayor Bloomberg during the immigrant week, a celebration of the contributions of immigrants to the City of New York. 

In 2016, Zeinab Eyega, was awarded the Lydia Martinez Multidisciplinary Collaboration Award in the Prevention category. In the speech honoring her work, the nominating committee said of Ms. Eyega. “She works around the clock 24 hours a day and goes out into the community to talk with women and young girls at Mosques, hair salons, schools and other institutions that can bring awareness and lower risk factors that protect females from sexual assault.” 


Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome

Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome is a Professor of Political Science and African & Women’s Studies, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York. Prof. Okome is the founder of the #BringBackOurGirls NYC. She is an International Political Economist whose regional specialization is on the African continent, Nigeria precisely. She was selected as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar (2017-2020), a position designed to make her expertise and experience available for institution building at universities outside the United States. Prof. Okome was a Senior Research Fellow at Max Planck Institute, Gottingen, Germany in Spring 2016, where she worked on an ongoing project titled: “Gender, Power and Leadership in the African Initiated Church in Nigeria and her Diaspora.” In 2015, as Carnegie Diaspora Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, she worked on a project to develop and revamp the Political Science Curriculum, as well as establish a faculty publication programme to mentor junior colleagues to develop their scholarship and publication profile. Prof. Okome is also a Leonard and Claire Tow Professor, 2015/2016; past Women’s Studies Program Director and past Deputy Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at Brooklyn College. Born in Nigeria, she has worked on international development issues as a consultant for clients including the United Nations, USAID, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees and The Commonwealth. Her research interests include various elements of international political economy, as well as the study of the effects of globalization, post-colonialism, and postmodernity on economic and political transformation; Gender, democracy and citizenship in Africa and African Diaspora Studies. She has taught, researched, published and drawn extensively on learning on these issues as an international consultant. Prof. Okome has experience in leading project research, including protocol design, team management, literature review, data analysis and writing.  


Lady Adaina Ajayi

Lady Adaina Ajayi (nee Yartey) is a faculty and researcher in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Covenant University, Nigeria. She earned her doctoral degree in International Relations with a focus on the effectiveness of homegrown versus transplanted human rights regimes in protecting women’s rights. Specifically, her work examined the impact of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW) in Ghana in combatting the pervasive influence of culture and patriarchy. Dr. Ajayi was recently awarded the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES) 2018 Junior Researcher Grant.  She was a member of the research team awarded an Academic Challenge Grant by the Office of the Provost Ithaca College, New York, United States, titled “Mutating Patriarchies and the Struggle against Domestic Violence: Decoding the Politics of Silencing and Disbelief in West Africa and the United States”.  She was  also awarded a three (3) weeks Visiting Fellowship in the Department of Politics, Ithaca College, New York, United States, 7-28 June, 2016 which led to a symposium on “Evaluating International Collaboration in Struggles for Rights and Justice: Gendered Violence and other Challenges”. Dr. Ajayi was an active participant in the “Classrooms Beyond Borders” (CBB) Program between Ithaca College (USA), Covenant University (Nigeria), UNISA (South Africa) and An Najah University (West Bank) in 2011. She is a member of the International Political Science Association, Lagos Studies Association and currently serves as the Chair, Standing Committee on Projects of the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF). Dr. Ajayi has published articles in several peer-reviewed journals and continues to work as a scholar-practitioner engaged in advocating and advancing the quest for an effective regime of human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations. 


Khandikile Sokoni

Khandikile Sokoni is a member of the firm True, Walsh & Sokoni, LLP where she is engaged in the general practice of law including general corporate, immigration and municipal law. She previously worked in the Ithaca City Attorney’s Office for 14 years the latter six of which she served as Assistant City Attorney. As Assistant City Attorney, Khandi served as legal counsel to the Mayor, the City Council, and department heads of the City of Ithaca on a variety of municipal law matters. Khandi is currently a commissioner on the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission (IJEQC), for the Sixth Judicial District. She is a past president of the Tompkins County Bar Association, and the Finger Lakes Women’s Bar Association. She has served on the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga Counties, Kids Count Inc., and the Drop-In Children’s Center in Ithaca. 


Mojoyin Onijala

Mojoyin Onijala is an experienced senior litigation attorney at Shearman & Sterling LLP  whose practice focuses on Securities Litigation, Anti- Corruption/FCPA investigations, Regulatory Compliance, and Sanctions law. Mojoyin has also taken up many pro bono cases in fighting against corruption and promoting women’s rights. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School with an LLM in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 


Peyi Soyinka-Airewele

Peyi Soyinka-Airewele is a Professor of international and African politics and chairperson of the Politics Department at Ithaca College, New York. She received her Ph.D. in international studies from the University of Birmingham, U.K and has served as president of the Association of Third World Studies, co-vice president of the Ithaca City of Asylum, and president of the African Studies and Research Forum. Soyinka-Airewele’s research on democratic development, gendered violence, and the politics of memory and trauma in the African postcolony has been published in several journals including the Journal of Asian and African StudiesJournal of Third World Studies, and West Africa Review. Her published books include Reframing Contemporary Africa (CQ Press, with Kiki Edozie) and Socio-Political Scaffolding and the Construction of Change (Africa World Press, with Kelechi Kalu). 

Peyi is the first black woman to earn tenure at Ithaca college and later, promotion to full professor. In 2008, she was elected to serve as the first female President of the Association of Third World Studies Inc. and co-Vice Chairperson of the Ithaca City of Asylum (2007-8). Peyi was the founder of the Alliance for Community Transformation, ACT Africa and Director of the Partnership of the Academy and Community (PACT-OAU). She was elected as Director of Research and later President of the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF) and is currently President of the African Women’s Initiative. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele was a fellow of the Global Security and Cooperation Program of the Social Science Research Council, the Oxford Round Table, United Kingdom, and the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship. She is an ambassador for the Stephen’s Children’s Home, a center that nurtures and educates hundreds of children orphaned and displaced by Boko Haram terrorism.