MMW Spring 2023 News

Media Matters for Women’s Senior Reporter Alinah Kallon, left, and Executive Director Florence Sesay stand in front of the world flags display at the United Nations headquarters in March. They were in New York City to lead an event in connection with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which was holding its annual conference.

MMW celebrates 10 years of supporting rural communities in Sierra Leone

We continue to campaign for the rights of women and girls

Florence Sesay attending a listening session in Makeni, with a group of dedicated listeners and Alinah Kallon, MMW’s Senior Journalist covering Bombali.

By Florence Sesay, Executive Director in Sierra Leone

I recently returned from a highly successful trip to New York City to attend the 67th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women conference. Senior Journalist Alinah Kallon and I showcased MMW’s work at our own presentation and at other events. We also traveled to Kansas and Colorado to network and fundraise. In Colorado, Alinah and I saw snow for the first time!

MMW is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, which is exciting for me and all the core and field staff. We’re organizing several events in our rural districts and will welcome an international delegation of International Advisory Council members, external staff, and other supporters.

As I reflect back on the past decade, it’s exciting and even overwhelming to examine all that MMW has accomplished. We believe information is power and access drives change. We have built a highly successful and trusted network in rural communities in five districts of Sierra Leone. 

I am proud of our three highly skilled journalists, who along with our core and field staff, have built strong ties and trust in their communities. We produce podcasts in local languages to empower women and girls, and we broadcast them in listening centers, kiosks, shops, and at hospitals.  We have field staff who travel by motorbike and bicycles to broadcast using solar speakers in last-mile communities. 

Other staff include focal points, youth advocates and town criers. Podcast topics include health issues such as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), teen pregnancy, and female genital mutilation; civic education and voting; women’s rights and leadership, economic issues, and much more. 

Looking back, we were key providers of information about the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and more recently with Covid-19.  

MMW is committed to strengthening communities and movement building. This past year we  collaborated with 30 schools to launch the Period Power Project 2, which teaches girls about menstrual health and safety. We also constructed a fish farming project run by women who use our podcasts to learn business and aquaculture skills. 

We are playing a key role in the June 24 general elections, producing podcasts to counter rampant mis- and dis-information and to ease political tensions.

Our podcasts reach more than 60,000 listeners monthly. They’ve had a major impact. A growing number of women – and men – say they are more aware of SGBV and ways to curb and prevent it.  And more women are seeking leadership positions in elections and communities. 

This is MMW’s work past and present. I look forward to the next 10 years of empowering women and girls and strengthening our communities.

About Florence

MMW-SL Executive Director Florence Sesay is a highly respected and experienced journalist and broadcaster. She has received numerous prestigious awards, including a Vital Voices Global Leadership Fellowship and the 2021 B-Peace International Mentors Award. She’s a member of the UN Spotlight Initiative Civil Society-Regional Reference Group and a longtime advocate for gender equality and women’s health.

CSW67 was a remarkable experience for MMW

MMW Executive Director Florence Sesay, at left, is joined by panelists Dr. Mildred Mushunje, of Zimbabwe; Kassoum Coulibaly of Mali; and MMW Senior Journalist Alinah Kallon at an MMW-hosted discussion held in connection with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York City in March. At least 30 people attended the session with many more attending virtually.

By Madeline MacKenzie

Media Matters for Women hosted an event in connection with the United Nations’ 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York City on March 10. Part of our team from Sierra Leone shared their knowledge from a collective 30+ years of experience championing the rights of women and girls among rural communities in Western Africa.

MMW Executive Director Florence Sesay hosted the panel discussion, “Addressing the Unmet Information Needs of Africa’s Hardest-To-Reach Communities,” which also included MMW Senior Journalist Alinah Kallon; Dr. Mildred Mushunje, of Zimbabwe, co-chair of the Civil Society Regional Reference Group, a Spotlight Initiative of the African Union; and Kassoum Coulibaly, founder and chairman of the Afrika Global Gender Academy in Mali. We were pleased to host around 30 in-person attendees; more than 20 attended remotely. [Continue reading this story and view photos here.]

Read more about Alinah and Florence’s visit to the United States in this Arvada Press (Colorado) newspaper story that provides a good overview of MMW’s work.

MMW and allies demand justice for rape of child

By Alinah Kallon, Senior MMW Journalist

In May 2022, Jane Kamara (not her real name), an 8-year-old child, and her friends accepted a ride home from school with a driver for one of the banks in Makeni. The man, Unisa Kabba, known as J-one, was Jane’s neighbor. 

J-one tricked Jane into going to his house where he sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The trauma changed Jane’s life.  

The girl’s aunt discovered what had happened to her traumatized niece and immediately reported it to the police, which launched an investigation.

Fish farm project takes off, thanks to MMW’s aid

Community members of the Kareme District of northwest Sierra Leone build the first fish farm that will be owned and managed by area women. MMW is leading the project and providing trainings via its podcasts.

By Alinah Kallon, MMW Senior Journalist (Bombali)

Media Matters for Women (MMW) is helping to build a women-owned fish farming project in Kamakwie, a remote and impoverished area in the Kareme District in northwest Sierra Leone. The goal is to empower women to pursue their own business opportunities.

The women involved in the project are enthusiastic about it, according to MMW Senior Journalist Alinah Kallon, in part because of its long-term viability. The fish will expand their families’ diets and lead to potential profits.

“They’re really happy,” Kallon said. “They say it’s an opportunity to get new knowledge, to learn something new.”

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