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WIMSAL’s outgoing President Calls for peace and unity

…Bo conference to discuss women and Adolescent Girls

November 26, 2015 By Fadda Bakish

Women in the media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) is an association formed in November 2007 by a group of energetic young female journalists from both the print and electronic media to promote the interest of female journalists, female communication practitioners and women in all spheres of life in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

WIMSAL advocates for better conditions of service for female journalists and campaign for the rights of all women. The organization also forms an important support network for female journalists, which is helpful to those who are new to the profession and those based in rural areas who can often feel isolated.

All Roads lead to Bo City where WIMSAL will be holding their conference this weekend, which will be climaxed by an election that will usher in a new executive on Saturday. The hardworking women will centre their discussions on the theme: “The role of the Media in protecting and advancing the right of women and adolescent girls”.

Outgoing President, Mrs. Asmaa James, informed this reporter in an exclusive interview that this year’s conference will make a great difference in the lives of Women in the Media, especially those that have the potential to serve in leadership positions. “We want to discuss issues surrounding the protection of women and girls. We want to see girls remaining girls in school and not mothers,” she said, and added that women and girls should be respected in society.

Mrs. James revealed that the media in Sierra Leone is currently dominated by men, and added that they want to see women coming out to take up leadership positions in the news room. “We want to establish a newspaper that is solely managed by women,” she revealed.

She noted that one of the challenges the new Executive should try to address is to have women owning and managing newspapers, while female reporters must be given the opportunity to investigate and report hard news like their male counterparts.

She admonished women in the media to set themselves high standards that will earn them respect and place them in leadership positions.

“We must have respect for each other and embrace each other as we work towards a common goal,” she appealed to her colleagues.

Madam James, who has served two years in leadership, called on candidates contesting the forthcoming elections to see each other as sisters and that they must not tear each other apart. “We want the elections to be a friendly contest and the sisterly love to always prevail,” she said.

Under Mrs. James’ leadership, WIMSAL has made lots of successes, which has earned it both national and international recognition. The organisation played a key role in promoting women and girls. In 2013 WIMSAL championed the campaign against rape, and presented a position paper to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and other relevant stakeholders. In 2014, WIMSAL also championed the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, which was geared towards fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone.

WIMSAL offers its members training and encouragement in an industry where few opportunities for mentoring and training exist, and even fewer for women. As a group, WIMSAL has led strong campaign with media leaders and government, raising issues that male journalists have often not even recognised.

One such issue is the perception that female journalists can only work on women’s issues, and not cover hard news, as they do in other countries. WIMSAL is campaigning to change this mindset and provide leverage to female journalists to perform on equal terms with their male counterparts.

WIMSAL has received funds from a range of sources, including Cordaid, the largest International Non-Governmental Organisation in the Netherlands.

Ever aware of the need to maintain a diverse funding mix, the organisation has developed a strategic plan to enable it easily and quickly compile to funding proposals and to respond to donor interest, while at the same time remaining true to its strategic objectives.

WIMSAL is registered with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and is affiliated to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).

The organisation has a rapidly growing membership. It is now the most prominent women’s media network in Sierra Leone, being recognised as the organisation representing female journalists. The organisation has over 200 members across the country.

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