During our recent peacebuilding project, Media Matters for Women (MMW) was a leading member of the women’s civil society organizations’ creating peace court barrays, traditional local gatherings where women settle political differences and promote peace through MMW podcasts. MMW trained more than 150 women across 6 districts as peace ambassadors during the recent national elections.
Subsequently, Florence Sesay, MMW Executive Director in Sierra Leone, was selected to participate in a UN Women conference about “How Women Performed in the 2023 General Elections.” Participants analyzed the effectiveness of recent approaches to increasing female political participation in Sierra Leone, highlighting successes, remaining gaps, lessons learned, and recommendations to inform future projects.
Sesay spoke on “Communication and Women’s Political Participation in Sierra Leone,” with a focus on gender-sensitive reporting and coverage, and whether the media enhanced women’s political participation. Other panelists included BBC Media Action Producer Director Edward Kargbo, President of Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) Eastina Taylor and Executive Director of IDEAS Dr. Mahmoud Tarrawalie.
Stakeholders within the Sierra Leonean political sphere, many of whom played a role in the lead up to the elections in June, gathered at the conference. They focused on involving local and international organizations to help improve women’s political participation.
Sesay’s address concluded with a key takeaway: “I encourage donors to support early engagement using both traditional and non-traditional media outlets. There should be a paradigm shift in the governance structure of political parties. Women should aspire to hold decision-making positions rather than cooking, organizing supporters and creating platforms for men during campaigns.”