FAWE was founded in 1992 by five African women ministers of education — the late Hon. Vida Yeboa of Ghana, Hon. Simone de Comarmond of Seychelles, Hon. Paulette Missambo of Gabon, Hon. Dr Fay Chung of Zimbabwe, and Hon. Alice Tiendrebéogo of Burkina Faso.
FAWE was born out of discussions between African ministers and donor agency representatives of the Donors to African Education (DAE). It was created on the staunch belief that women in decision-making positions have the potential to make a significant difference.
The creation of FAWE was formalised by a meeting held in September 1992 at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre in Italy.
In her opening remarks, Hon. Dr Chung said, “We are here to search for practical, manageable interventions that will realistically help to ameliorate the present situation. We are not helpless as a group. We need to have a vision of where we want to go, realising that each day, there is something positive we can do”.
The Bellagio meeting brought together nineteen senior African women policy-makers in education drawn together by a common concern — the poor status of female education in Africa.
In order for these ministers, vice-chancellors and prominent educationalists to make the difference they desired to make, a mechanism had to be put into place that would enable them to share views, exchange experiences, explore alternatives and pool their intellectual resources constantly. The formation of a network that would support members and their institutions, strengthening their capacity for influencing policy-making and policy-shaping, was clearly a priority.
FAWE was registered as a pan-African Non-Governmental Organisation in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1993.