Media Matters for Women prioritizes working in countries where women and girls experience significant barriers to accessing education, health, and livelihood services.
We work in countries where information and communication technology remains an underdeveloped tool for rural women, who are even further removed from the Information Age than the men whose poverty they share. If women do not learn to use these technologies, they will become further marginalized from their communities and the world.
We also work in crisis and post-conflict zones, which can feature a constant background of sexual violence that oppresses women and girls across all aspects of life, including health and well-being.
Media Matters for Women has been working in Sierra Leone since 2013. We develop innovative communication projects delivering life-changing information to thousands of women and girls.
We work through our sister organisations, Media Matters for Women – Sierra Leone which is growing steadily into a strong voice for women and girls, especially those in rural areas.
Our projects support a small team of highly dedicated female journalists, community promoters, and project coordinators who together ensure that our weekly podcasts are produced, distributed, and shared widely to our target audiences.
Under Covid-19 we have new grant funding to address the “pandemic within the pandemic” of increased sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) resulting from stress and isolation tied to COVID-19. We are raising awareness of these issues through our podcasts and providing information on what to do and where to go for help. We aim to enable women and girls who are sexually abused to speak up and connect with the appropriate health service providers
Under Covid-19 conditions we are educating women and girls on their human rights and train them to be the best advocates for their own well-being, including employing field staff in rural areas so that those women can combat harmful stereotypes, becomes agents of change, and help their peers to do so.
We are also currently focused on capacity building. We are working to advance organizational growth and development in our rural networks of Town Criers, Youth Advocates, CSO Focal Points, and radio networks to increase the capacity of our organization to promote sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) information and services for women and girls, including an increased emphasis on the collection of meaningful data that drives not only our organizational decisions but also provides a blueprint for advancing women’s rights policies.
Our method of podcast distribution has changed under COVID-19. We now take a multi-layered distribution approach to reach the widest audience possible. First, we take information directly to the people. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have temporarily closed our Listening Centres and have established a network of 30 Town Criers equipped with Bluetooth-enabled megaphones to reach rural communities with female-focused health and safety information. This has had the unexpected impact of significantly increasing both our geographical reach and the number of men and boys who listen to our podcasts. Our Youth Advocates engage in outreach activities, bringing the programs to remote homes, centers for the blind and disabled, educational settings, health service waiting rooms, and other places where women/girls can receive the information. This enables rural women/girls—those beyond reach of the country’s fragile infrastructure—to hear trusted information that provides both the means and incentive to improve their lives. Second, our programs are aired on twelve community stations in all 5 provinces of Sierra Leone and on two national radio stations. We also have increased our social media presence, distributing the podcasts on multiple platforms.