Florence Sesay Named to Estée Lauder Leadership Program

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NEWS RELEASE – Freetown, Sierra Leone, Nov. 14, 2022

Florence Sesay, the executive director of the non-profit Media Matters for Women based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has been selected as a visionary leader by the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund and Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Sesay joins a group of 50 distinguished women from around the globe who are shaping the future to improve the lives and livelihood of women and men. For Sesay and Media Matters for Women, this includes addressing the unmet information needs of women and girls in rural Africa. Sesay will participate in the Vital Voices Visionaries program, a seven-week online training course led by Estée Lauder executives and those at Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit that invests in female leaders and entrepreneurs. “I am very honored to be included in this group of impressive women from throughout the world and to have the opportunity to work with Estée Lauder and Vital Voices to improve Media Matters for Women’s impact on the world,” said Sesay upon learning the news.

Sesay is a co-founder of Media Matters for Women in Sierra Leone. She is a journalist and broadcaster whose work has long focused on women’s rights and advocacy. She is the recipient of the 2021 B-Peace International Mentors Award and is co-chair of the UN Women’s Civil Society Regional Reference Group of the Spotlight Initiative Africa Regional Programme.

Sesay previously served in the Office of The First Lady of Sierra Leone, overseeing advocacy on the reduction of maternal and infant mortality. Sesay began her journalism career at Cotton Tree News, where she was head of the Women’s Magazine, producing and presenting programs
on women’s health, participation in governance and agriculture. Sesay is a well-known and respected public speaker on topics such as female genital mutilation, sexual and reproductive health issues and other socio-cultural issues. She strongly advocates for women and girls via Media Matters for Women’s innovative and highly effective programs.

Media Matters for Women uses mobile phones to address the unmet information needs of women and girls in rural Africa. Specially trained local journalists report on relevant issues, including human rights, health, gender-based violence, teen pregnancy, girls’ education, participatory democracy, human trafficking and income generation. Reports are created as podcasts, which are distributed in multiple local languages. By harnessing free file-sharing – common in Africa’s music-sharing culture – to generate a “viral” effect, Media Matters for Women ensures that women and girls across Sierra Leone are exposed to clear, accurate and
timely information on subjects important to them. “Our approach is innovative and highly effective,” Sesay said. “We reach women in rural
communities with our locally generated podcasts. We hope to improve the lives of all people, and to especially support women and girls.”

Vital Voices Global Partnership:
Celebrating 25 years since its founding, Vital Voices Global Partnership has directly invested in more than 20,000 changemakers across 184 countries and territories since its inception in 1997. Driven by the universal truth that women are the key to progress in their communities and nations cannot move forward without women in leadership positions, Vital Voices has provided early support for leaders who went on to become Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, U.S. Youth Poet Laureates, prime ministers, award-winning innovators, pioneering human rights defenders, and breakthrough social entrepreneurs. Vital Voices identifies leaders who have a daring vision for change and partners with them to make that vision a reality. Learn more: www.vitalvoices.org

# Media Matters for Women
Media Matters for Women (MMW) connects vulnerable rural women and girls – those beyond the reach of traditional media – with the tools to be healthy, live safely, and fully enjoy their human rights. MMW envisions a world in which rural women and girls are in control of their rights and possess the tools to make informed decisions about their own well-being. For more information about MMW, visit www.mediamattersforwomen.org.
MMW podcasts cover topics important to the health, safety and welfare of women and girls. They are recorded in Krio, Limba, Mende and Temne, and the library of nearly 900 podcasts may be listened to on Soundcloud: MMW – Soundcloud.

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