Dr Siga Fatima Jagne is currently the Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) where she leads the Commissions work in these areas. She is an Academic of international acclaim and a Senior Advisor on Gender, Research, Social Development, Youth Policy, Poverty, and a communications expert bringing over 27 years of research and practical experience in monitoring and evaluation to these development challenges.
Dr Jagne received her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude in English and French from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1985, the same year she was also awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to do independent research on the Politics of Black French Literature. After her Watson year, Dr. Jagne attended Atlanta University then Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she received her master’s degree in 1989, in African and African American Studies. That same year, she proceeded to the State University of New York at Binghamton where she studied Comparative Literature, specializing in Philosophy, Critical Theory and Women’s Studies. She received her PhD in 1994.
In 1992, she returned to her alma mater, Spelman College, as Assistant Professor of English, African Diaspora Studies and Women Studies. At Spelman, she was actively involved with the Ford Diversity Project, the Women’s Center and worked on issues of diversity in the curriculum. She was part of the interdisciplinary team that first taught ‘the AFRICAN Diaspora and the World’ course, a new requirement for all Spelman students. In 1996, she moved to Dakar, Senegal and taught at the CODESRIA Gender Institute whilst researching on Wolof women’s performance poetry and working on popular culture.
Dr Jagne has also been doing research on and in Africa for the last three decades, focusing on gender-related issues. Her PhD dissertation, an Interdisciplinary study entitled “African Women and the Category Woman in Feminist Theory,” is the culmination of years of research as a scholar from The Gambia, as a student and professor in the United States, as a gender expert, and as an African woman.
She returned to her native Gambia in 1997 to become the Executive Director of the National Women’s Bureau. In that role, she oversaw national gender policy, projects, and programs for the country. She supervised the work of research teams and provided oversight and guidance on participatory gender assessments, program development, implementation and evaluation for government, civil society, and development partners. Whilst at the Bureau she became Director of the UNFPA Gender program in The Gambia, Director of UNICEF’S advocacy program in The Gambia, Board member of The National Commission of UNESCO, and member of the National Committee of the West African Examinations Council. In 1999, she was recruited by Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada to teach English. Within two years the government of the Gambia decided to have a national university and she was chosen as one of the key architects to start the University of The Gambia, becoming a founder member of the first University Senate and Vice Chairperson of the Governing Council.
In 2004, Dr Jagne was appointed to work as head of the Pro-Poor Advocacy Group (Pro-PAG), a Department for International Development (DFID) program on pro-poor poverty and budget research, the results of which were used for advocacy for the inclusion of the poor with the National. In 2008, Dr. Jagne left the Pro-Poor Advocacy Group and became the Director and a Partner at the International Development Support Services (IDSS), a global consulting firm based in The Gambia working internationally and locally to offer development support to governments, bilateral, and multilateral organizations, as well as the private sector, academia, nonprofits and civil society.
As a communication specialist also, Dr Jagne has worked at home for the national radio as well as the National newspaper as both reporter and editor. She has coordinated and developed communication strategies for the implementation of the decentralization processes in The Gambia, as well as the communication strategy for the Gambia’s Millennium Development Goals and the PRSP II.
Dr Jagne serves on numerous boards, advisory councils, ethics committees, advisory boards of academic journals and institutions. She is the author of two books and numerous interdisciplinary articles.