Digital and innovative women

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By Gabriel Benjamin

As the 2023 International Women’s Day celebration wraps up, Concord Times features four Sierra Leonean women who are changing the narrative through innovation and technology. Against odds, and the pervasive threat of online gender-based violence, they are standing tall, and have become a source of inspiration to others. They share life-changing experiences on how they have overcome all forms of disparity and inequality, while living through each day as tech, digital and innovative women.

A woman is having the choice to be bold and speak up, to pursue your dreams and passions Manty Sulma Marah

Manty Sulma Marah

Manty Sulma Marah is a 28-year-old entrepreneur. Despite dropping out of school, in 2022 she established her fashion line, Sulma Design, which specializes in producing unique clothing and accessories; and upcycling of used furniture. As an advocate for women education and empowerment, through the fashion line, she provides skills acquisition training and mentorship for young girls in her community. Her drive and passion have not gone unnoticed. For example, in 2022 she headlined various media platforms, including Hidden Voice Salone, and did presentation for VAfrica, a media organization that showcases African excellence to the world. Manty is an inspiration and a testament that, with hard work, determination and a willingness to learn, young women can achieve their dreams.

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman is having the choice to be bold and speak up, to pursue your dreams and passions, and to embrace your unique strengths and qualities.

Have you experienced gender inequality?

I have experienced gender inequality numerous times. As someone with skills in upholstery, I have had customers who, upon learning that I am a woman, express doubts about my ability to do the job. However, I always respond by reminding them that every job a man can do, a woman can do too, and that it ultimately depends on the individual’s skills and positive attitude.

If you could give yourself a theme for 2023, what would it be and why?

If I could give myself a theme for 2023, it would be “Team Strong Woman.” I have faced many challenges in my life, but I have never given up. I am always pushing myself to be the best version of myself, and I believe that with determination and a supportive community of strong women, I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

What does innovation and technology mean to you?

Innovation and technology mean the introduction of new ideas and tools that can revolutionize the way we live, work, and solve our everyday problems. They represent the potential for progress and positive change, and I believe that by embracing innovation and technology, we can create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

How have you been able to sustain and reinvent your brand over the years such that you are still so very relevant today?

Through dedication and a willingness to adapt and evolve with changing times, I have been able to sustain and reinvent my brand. I am always seeking new ways to improve and grow, whether it’s through developing new skills, expanding my network, or staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. By staying true to my values and vision, while also being open to new ideas and opportunities, I have been able to maintain relevance and continue to thrive.

Who is a digital woman to you?

A digital woman is a woman who is passionate about utilizing technology to solve problems and create a better future. She is tech-savvy and knowledgeable about the latest trends and advancements in the digital world. She uses technology to empower herself and others, whether through education, entrepreneurship, or social activism. She can work in a variety of fields, such as software development, digital marketing, or cybersecurity. She is a trailblazer who is unafraid to break barriers and push boundaries in the digital space.

Being a woman means being selfless, iconoclastic, double hustle and extreme bravery Amb. Precious Amabel Lebby-Smith

Amb. Precious Amabel Lebby-Smith

Amb. Precious Amabel Lebby-Smith is a certified journalist, communications strategist and a content creator, whose social media handles and contents are widely shared and followed across the world. She is among the few Sierra Leoneans to start Facebook livestream years ago with her popular ‘Moment With Precious Chat show’.  Recently, she has taken over Tiktok platform with her new show, ‘Moment With Precious Self Care Club,’ a show that brings Africans from other countries together to examine issues of mental health, relationships, family values and lots more.

What does being a woman mean to you?

To me, being a woman means being Selfless, iconoclastic, double hustle and extreme bravery. Putting them into perspective is what being a woman is in a whole package.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

No! I have always been treated fairly, and with the same respect given to my male counterparts.

If you could give your life a theme for 2023, what will it be and why?

My theme will be a year of relentless evolving and discovery. I am a strong advocate of self-discovery and all round personal development.

What’s innovation and technology to you?

Innovation to me means exploring new ideas and finding new ways to solve existing social challenges, using advanced platforms like Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram and other social media outlets.

How have you been able to sustain and reinvent your brand over the years such that you are still so very relevant today?

Consistency! I have learnt over the last 5 years of consistently creating influencing contents on social media, the art of going one step at a time, taking a pause and evaluate, re-strategize, and acquire new insights into how to improve the quality of content I develop. Also, watching the people I bring into my networking space has been instrumental to my steady brand growth, and this has a huge impact in society, of which my brand is a part of.

Who is a digital woman to you?

She is a woman who utilizes the social media community channel to inspire her peers, and serve as a mentor to others who desire to be digitally limitless by offering online support classes in her area of digital expertise.

A woman means being compassionate, strong-willed, brave, and helping other women to succeedHawa Turay

Hawa Turay

Hawa Turay is Sierra Leone’s first representative to Miss Universe. She is the founder of Hawawa Model Management; one of Sierra Leone’s fastest growing modelling hub. She also owns the famous Hawawa Boutique. Her desire to continue to challenge herself and expand her knowledge led her to Fourahbay College where she is currently studying Mass Communication. Hawa as vibrant and audacious as the name of brands is happily married with one daughter.

What does being a woman mean to you?

A woman means being compassionate, strong-willed, brave, and helping other women to succeed in their careers and life endeavors.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

Yes, like so many other women I grew up around gender inequality. In our culture, we are institutionalized to believe that all authority belongs to the male gender. Our homes are where we first begin to experience gender inequalities as girls growing up.

If you could give your life a theme for 2023, what will it be and why?

Be present. It’s my year to be present in every occasion that will add value to my brand and long term goals.

What’s innovation and technology to you?

Innovation and technology means creating new opportunities and approaches to break trends and reach those who are the most likely to be left behind.

How have you been able to sustain and reinvent your brand over the years such that you are still so very relevant today?

I do things out of love. When you love anything, you find the best possible methods to execute on the goals you set. For example, when I wanted to setup Hawawa Model Management and Image Consultancy, I took some time to draw from my experience as a model, what I loved and despised. With that I was able to setup an agency that enhances the value chain in modelling and fashion for models in Sierra Leone for international stages.

Who is a digital woman to you?
Gender inequality in the physical world is replicated in the digital world. There is a huge gap in women and girl’s digital adoption compared to men. Violence against women and girls seem to be normalized by society but with the advancement of technology has enabled us to connect and raise awareness on human right violations. The digital woman means breaching the gaps of the digital world to empower girls and women, while raising awareness on their livelihoods, mental and physiological health and reputation.

Being a woman is to lead a life that is aware of the societal biases and patriarchy and still not heed to them Theriyeh Koroma-Nenneh

Theriyeh Koroma-Nenneh

Theriyeh Koroma-Nenneh is the Founder and Team Leader of Feminists United Sierra Leone and Allies- a diverse movement of young and feminists who mobilize forces to address deep rooted sexism and gender discriminations through advocacy, collective building and civic engagements. She relies on her years of developing experience in the blend of social behavioural change communication and feminism advocacy to seek policy reforms and lead the feminism agenda in Sierra Leone. She is a feminist blogger and founder of the “Warrior Radicalo” website platform, where she has demonstrated passion to develop human interest stories for impacts and call to action especially on issues concerning women, girls and youth. Theriyeh who currently serves as the Communications Lead at the Children’s Rights Innovation Fund, is a Masters student studying Gender and Development studies.

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman is to lead a life that is aware of the societal biases and patriarchy and still not heed to them. Being a woman is a personal commitment to be a non-conformist and a rebel against the status quo that seeks to marginalize women’s place in society. I know that as a result of the way women have been conditioned or socialized, this may be a challenging thing to do.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

If you live in Sierra Leone as a woman you will see that gender inequality is so present in our daily lives. As we speak, there are less than 17% of women representing me in my country’s Parliament which affects the kind of laws made on my behalf. It is the same thing with the quantity of women. As a woman, I am judged two times more as compared to a man for doing the same thing. I have to work two times more to validate my competence just because I am a woman. The way our patriarchal system works, women are held bound and are forced to limit their aspirations in life.

What’s innovation and technology to you?

I believe it is a tool that we can use to elevate the capacity of women by firstly bridging the digital divide. I think tech education and training should be made more accessible to women, particularly in developing countries, where distance, cost, and cultural barriers may have previously limited their opportunities. This will enable women to start their own businesses, access new markets, and reach customers online, which can lead to increased financial independence and greater economic opportunities in addition to advancing their health with tools such as telemedicine and wearables.

Who is a digital woman to you?

A digital woman is someone who is knowledgeable and skilled in using technology, particularly in areas such as computers, software, mobile devices, and the internet to solve problems and achieve her goals. She may have expertise in programming, web design, digital marketing, cybersecurity, or other technology-related fields. Such a woman may work in the tech industry, or she may simply have a passion for technology and enjoy learning about and using new tools and technologies to improve her work and personal life.

If you could give your life a theme for 2023, what will it be and why?

The Life of a Brave Warrior. The year 2023 is just a continuation of my resolve to be myself and focused about going for my dreams.  As an unapologetic feminist, I believe that anything a woman like me sets her mind to do, she will accomplish.

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