Outstanding Educator Award

Sigma Fatima Jagne, Ph.D.

Sigma Fatima Jagne was born in Banjul and attended Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School and Saint Joseph’s High where she graduated from in 1978 and proceeded Gambia High School for the sixth form. In 1982, after working as a Journalist for the Department of information Services she moved to the United States and attended Spelman College in Atlanta. Georgia where she got her BA, Magna Cum Laude in English and French in 1985, she was in the same year awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to do independent research on the politics of Black French Literature. After her Watson year, Ms. Jagne attended Atlanta University then Cornell University, Ithaca, New York where she did her Masters Degree in African and African American Studies. In 1989, 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.

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 in with the Ford Diversity Project at Spelman College. She worked both independently and collaboratively 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. She has worked closely with the Women’s Center at Spelman.

In 1996 she moved to Dakar and taught at the CODESRIA Gender Institute whilst doing Research on Wolof Women’s performance poetry and working on popular culture. As an academic, she has been doing research on, and in Africa for the last three decades, focusing on gender and its related issues. Her Ph.D dissertation, an interdisciplinary study of African Women and the category woman in feminist theory, is the culmination of years of research and of living as, as a scholar from Gambia, as a student and professor in the U.S.A. as a gender expert and as an African woman.

In 1997 she moved to her native Gambia as Executive Director of the National Women’s Bureau. As Executive Director she was in charge of national gender policy, projects and programmes for the country. She supervised the work of the research teams that worked on the national studies and policies on gender related issues. She provided oversight and guidance on participatory gender assessments, programme development, implementation and evaluation for government, Civil Society and development partners. Whilst at the Bureau was also, the Director of the UNFPA Gender programme in the Gambia, Director of UNICEF’S advocacy programme in the Gambia, Board member of The National Commission of UNESCO and member of the National Committee of the West African Exams Council.

In 1999 she was hired by Saint Mary’s University in Halifax Canada to teach English in their University extension programme. 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.