Media Matters for Women Completes our 10th Year of Advocating for Women and Girls’ Rights in Sierra Leone

This year Media Matters for Women celebrated 10 years of serving some of the most vulnerable people on the planet – women and girls in rural Sierra Leone. We celebrated our anniversary in Freetown with an event that included the new Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Isat2a Mahoi, as the keynote speaker and honored Africell Sierra Leone as a Local Hero through their continuous support of rural women and girls.

Media Matters for Women Waterloo team attending the 16 Days of Activism campaign day where local advocates were highlighted for their work to fight gender-based violence.

The challenges in 2023 were many. We watched and responded to the political tensions and unrest in Sierra Leone, a contested national election, runaway inflation and the rapidly falling value of the local currency. Despite these difficulties, our team excelled in their work, reaching more women and girls than ever before, developing new projects and forging new collaborations with both local and international partners.

MMW continues to bring critical information via our podcasts to rural communities across Sierra Leone. We’ve expanded from a small group of motivated journalists to a nationwide team of more than 80 staff members whose podcasts reach 60,000 listens every month. 

During 16 Days of Activism, the MMW team recognized community members for their work championing women’s and girls’ rights.

At the end of the year, we completed our 16 Days of Activism campaign in all three areas in which we operate, despite the current political turbulence in Sierra Leone. During this campaign, we honored 30 rural community activists who’ve been particularly strong champions of women’s rights in 2023.

Additionally, in partnership with 30 local schools, we completed our third year of the Period Power Project, engaging with school-aged girls and boys on the topic of menstrual health. Our journalists worked with local sexual health nurses to share information about how to take care of female bodies throughout the menstrual cycle, and how men can support women throughout their cycles. We taught students how to sew reusable period pads using locally accessible and cheap materials. 

This year, we expanded the curriculum to include education on female genital mutilation (FGM), which occurs during initiation into the Bondo Society, a powerful women’s secret society in Sierra Leone. Through the presentation of factual information, we are lifting the lid on the taboo that surrounds this practice with a special focus on recruiting boys as anti-FGM ambassadors.

MMW Executive Director Florence Sesay, at left in photo, was recognised by the European Union and the United Nations for her leadership during a project with the Spotlight Initiative, a global movement to end gender-based violence.

This is a small glimpse into our work during 2023. To learn more, including about our exciting new projects for 2024, please join our mailing list via our website signup link and follow us on social media. We appreciate your support of our important work.

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