Media Matters for Women broadcasts reliable information and initiates conversations about women’s rights issues within last-mile communities in Sierra Leone. We do this by recording and distributing podcasts in local languages through a distribution network that involves local radio stations, listening centers, and town criers.
Our Mission is to connect women and girls—those beyond the reach of traditional media– with information and inspiration that enables them to be healthy, live safely, and fully enjoy their rights.
Our vision is a world where women and girls are in control of their rights and possess the tools to make informed decisions about their own well-being.
MMW’s primary focus is to research issues concerning rural women in Sierra Leone to produce clear, concise podcasts providing reliable, unbiased information. We counter misinformation with facts and work to end harmful stereotypes, such as working to break the view that women must go through Female Genital Mutilation to be respected in society. Our local, female journalists research topics in-depth and interview key stakeholders, producing short, engaging podcasts that are presented weekly through a multi-tiered distribution network. Our podcasts are translated into more than 30 local languages, including Limba, Temne and Mende, to ensure the information is accessible in rural communities. During our 10-year history, we’ve produced more than 1,000 podcasts on topics such as female genital mutilation, sexual and gender-based violence and civic engagement.
Mamie & Omo
Our popular radio drama, “Mamie and Omo,” has been broadcasted across radio stations in Sierra Leone for more than 17 years. Two of our local journalists narrate the lives of Mamie and Omo to help women share information, learn from each other, hear crucial messages and join in a movement that begins in their village and extends across their region and country. The rhetoric between the two women resonates strongly with Sierra Leonean women, one of the characters having gone through female-genital mutilation (FGM) and the other opposed to this practice. These characters are able to broach deeply controversial topics in a light-hearted way, which makes the information more accessible and easier to hear. This radio drama was first broadcasted in 2006 just after the Civil War in Sierra Leone, when radio provided virtually the only access to information throughout the country. The show has continued to grow in popularity and reach.
Our Distribution Network
We harness the established communication networks within rural communities of Sierra Leone. Our distribution network is centered around our three senior journalists, based in Makeni, Western Rural and Kenema. In each region, our podcasts are distributed through five local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that serve as MMW Listening Centers. We also broadcast our podcasts across local radio stations. Our staff gather women every week to listen to our podcasts and discuss the topics covered within Listening Centers. From here, a team of ten Youth Advocates and ten Town Criers circulate the podcasts to neighboring communities.
Town Criers, appointed by community Chiefs, cover more than 150 rural communities each week on foot, accessing hard-to-reach villages. Youth Advocates visit farms, schools, centers for the blind and disabled, HIV/AIDs centers, and women’s correctional facilities. Additionally, we involve traditional and religious leaders, who continue to hold the majority of power among rural communities, throughout our work to increase our reach and develop community trust.
MMW serves as community connectors across the areas in which we work. During the past decade, we’ve developed an excellent network of partner CSOs and community leaders. We tap into this network when there is a problem within our community. For example, when a sexual assault case is brought to our journalists, we contact the local police station, legal aid, medical and counseling aid for the survivor to access the necessary services. In Makeni, our senior journalist is a key player in the Coalition for Progress (COP), a group of local CSOs that collaborates to address Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in all its forms, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The COP currently is fighting back against a group that is promoting FGM in Bombali. In Kenema, our journalist works with local CSOs that meet monthly under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to address issues affecting women in Kenema and surrounding districts. In the Western Rural Area, our journalist has organised CSOs to collectively tackle Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues, specifically with regard to rape and the lack of support services available outside of Freetown.
Through our regular programming we’ve developed a strong trust among rural communities in Sierra Leone that do not have access to information. This trust has allowed us to gain insights into these communities’ needs and develop special projects to meet these needs, involving the beneficiaries throughout the project development. Recently, we developed the Period Power Project, partnering with local schools and midwives to teach adolescent girls how to make their own reusable sanitary pads and to learn health and wellness skills. Our highly successful fish farm project has been running for over a year, training women in business management and operations of a fish farm. This has both created economic opportunities for impoverished last-mile women, as well as stimulating the wider economy and providing a sense of independence to women who live in an incredibly patriarchal society.