The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is a not-for-profit professional organisation advocating for the right to freedom of expression, free speech online, free media, and democratic good governance.
SLAJ recognises that gender inequality is a major challenge in the media in Sierra Leone. While the Association acknowledges that discrimination, harassment, and inequality on the basis of gender are not limited to the media, it wants to make it a priority to deal with these issues within the media.
The media in Sierra Leone is male-dominated, in terms of ownership and representation in leadership positions across individual media institutions as well as in SLAJ and its affiliate bodies.
Out of a total of 718 active SLAJ members across the country, only 170 are women.
Women in the media suffer unequal distribution of assignments in the newsroom. The male reporters are given assignments to cover hard news while female reporters are given soft beats.
Gender-sensitive reporting in the media is also very low.
Women journalists also claim they face sexual harassment and intimidation in the media from their male colleagues and superiors.
These are only a few of the challenges female journalists face.
While SLAJ does not have control over the employment and editorial policies of media houses, the Association wants to support efforts aimed at formulating policies that make the newsroom more conducive for female journalists.
To help it achieve this objective, the Association is hereby announcing the appointment of the following distinguished personalities to serve on its first-ever Gender Advisory Panel. This panel will advise SLAJ on gender issues, and conduct periodic gender audits that inform the way the Association formulates policies.
President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, said: “Members of the SLAJ Gender Advisory Panel are volunteers, helping SLAJ and the Sierra Leone media to promote a level playing field for all practitioners irrespective of their gender. We thank the appointees for consenting to serve on the panel, and we hope and pray their contribution will change the narrative for women (and men) in the media.”
The SLAJ Gender Advisory Panel:
Williette P.R.O. James- Chairperson:
Dr. Williette Princess Ransolina Oluwakemi James is a Sierra Leonean journalist, lecturer and Gender advocate. Since 2010, she has interspersed her journalistic work with gender advocacy in the media. Williette has practiced as a journalist for 22 years. She got part of her training in journalism at the Sky High Magazine in Walthamstow, London, and has benefitted from several other media and gender trainings nationally and internationally. She is currently the Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Communication Media and Information Studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
Chernor A. Bah- Member:
Chernor Bah is a globally recognised champion of girls rights, global education and youth development. He is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Purposeful – the first Africa rooted, a global feminist hub for girls activism. At 15 Chernor founded and led the Children’s Forum Network, a mass movement of children who mobilized to demand their voices be included in peace and reconciliation efforts after Sierra Leone’s civil war. In 2012, Bah co-founded A World at School – a global mobilization and campaign organization for education. He has been appointed numerous times by the United Nations Secretary-General and is a frequent speaker and advisor at high-level platforms including the United Nations, The European Union, the World Bank, and major universities around the world.
Naasu Genevieve Fofanah- Member:
Naasu Genevieve Fofanah is an Entrepreneur, accomplished Author, results-oriented international development and Public Administration Professional. She has substantive experience in psychology, gender, education, global public policy and management. Ms. Fofanah has a proven track record of success in offering senior policy advisory services to governments, bilateral and multilateral institutions, NGOs, CSOs on a broad spectrum of development issues. As Special Gender Adviser to the previous Government, Ms. Fofanah spearheaded the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment national policy in the Agenda for Prosperity (PRSP III). At Regional level, she served as Vice-Chairperson of the UNECA Bureau on Women representing West Africa. She is a renowned women and girls’ rights activist with several awards to her name.
Joseph ‘Josephine’ Ayamga- Secretary:
Joseph Ayamga is the Country Director of SEND Sierra Leone, an NGO that has done extensive work on women and girls empowerment in the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone. He is widely regarded as the initial champion of women in governance networks and has been able to mobilise more than 36,000 mostly rural women into governance and livelihood cooperatives in the East, South, and Western regions of Sierra Leone. Under his leadership, the NGO has grown exponentially from its initial presence in only Kailahun District to working in eight districts within five years. Ayamga’s work has contributed significantly to Kailahun making history in the 2012 elections as the only district to attain 41% of women representation in the local council. Recently, he has been responsible for establishing the Nyapui School and the Radio as platforms to give voice to women and build the next generation of women leaders. Ayamga is now called Jospehine by women in the Eastsern region.
Alhaji Manika Kamara
Acting National Secretary General