Chair - Media matters for women sierra Leone
Fatmata Dainkeh Katta is an experienced senior journalist who has spent the last 15 years serving as a reporter, presenter, drama writer, producer and actor, news and programme editor. She joined PCI Media Impact in July 2016, as Communications Officer working the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Program. She has held senior communication roles at: Johns Hopkins University working with the media grantees to produce radio dramas; at the Environment Protection Agency to raise awareness about environmental issues and develop change communication strategies, using radio drama; at Concern Worldwide, where she teamed up with other staff members to produce radio drama series promoting Water and Sanitation Hygiene in urban areas; and at the Population Media Centre using radio series drama and community sensitisation to address Sexual Reproductive Health issues in Sierra Leone. She has also worked with Citizen Radio, Voice of Youth, and Cotton Tree News - a media project by Fondation Hirondelle, which produced news and programs through UN Radio and other community radio stations across Sierra Leone. She has written for the African Press Agency, an online news agency. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with honours degree and a Master of Arts degree in Mass Communications from Fourah Bay College-University of Sierra Leone.
Board Members - Media matters for women sierra Leone
Florence Leeliema Sesay is a Sierra Leonean journalist who served in the Office of The First Lady of Sierra Leone heading the advocacy on the reduction of maternal and infant mortality with support from UNFPA since 2009. The project targeted the role of Traditional and Religious leaders as champions in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality. It set the pace for the government to lunch free health care and played an active part in reduction of teenage pregnancy campaign, capacity building, and empowerment of adolescent girls through the National Girls Camp. She began her career volunteering as news reader and announcer at the SLBS. In 1999, after the rebel invasion in Freetown, she relocated to Banjul in the Gambia and worked at St. Peter's Secondary School Library while obtaining a diploma in Mass Communication from the Gambia Technical Institute. She returned to Freetown in 2004 as a radio announcer and news reader at SLBS until 2006 when she joined Cotton Tree News (supported by Fondation Hirondelle). She was head of the Women's Magazine programme, producing and presenting programmes on women's health, participation in governance, and agriculture among other issues. She finds great joy in reaching vulnerable groups women and girls who live in hard-to-reach areas with reliable information about life-changing decisions regarding their reproductive health.
Millicent Kargbo is the Communications Officer of Sierra Leone’s National Youth Commissioner. Before joining the Commissioner in 2013, she was the senior producer at the Independent Radio Network—a bloc of 26 radio stations in Sierra Leone. She was one of many Sierra Leoneans that were hired and trained by Fondation Hirondelle’s Cotton Tree News (CTN) project where she eventually rose to the position of Features Editor and Deputy Senior Producer—the first female to hold a senior role in the newsroom. Millicent is passionate about the professional growth of women journalists, gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment. She has also been a staunch advocate for better working conditions for female journalists in Sierra Leone. Between 2012 and 2013, she served as Vice President of Women in the Media Sierra Leone. Millicent holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Sierra Leone.
Mariama Khai Fornah is a Sierra Leonean journalist, gender activist, radio producer, radio presenter, radio mentor and reporter. She currently works as a Radio Mentor/Reporter at BBC World Service Trust as well as Radio Producer and Program Manager at BBC Media Action Sierra Leone where she produced a programme to support cocoa farming in Sierra Leone and contributed to BBC Media Action’s dedicated programme on Ebola – Kick Ebola Nar Salone.
Mariama Sesay is a Producer at BBC Media Action Sierra Leone for Dis Na Wi Voice (This is Our Voice) a radio show in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She started as a reporter at a community radio station, Citizen radio 103.7 FM, reporting on issues that affect women and youth. She later moved on to a commercial radio station, Eagle radio 91.3 FM, where she produced and presented a 30-minute magazine show on health and women's issues. To further empower herself, in 2009 she then enrolled in a diploma course in Mass Communication at the University of Sierra Leone (FBC). While studying, she worked as a volunteer for Cotton Tree News (CTN) at the University radio station.
Because of her passion for women to have a better life and a say in decision-making processes, she was elected as the first President for Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) in 2008. Her goal is to make sure that there are more female journalists in higher positions in the news room with better welfare. In the struggle to achieve this goal, in 2009, she contested the incumbent Financial Sectary at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ) and won. She was the only female Executive for the first term (2 years). She managed the association finances for four years while encouraging other women to assume the challenge of running for higher roles.
Yeama Thompson is Co-Founder and current Executive Director of the Initiatives for Media Development, owner of the Spectrum Newspaper, and Board Member of the Innovations for Governance Reform in Sierra Leone. She serves as Communication Strategist Consultant with the Open Government Partnership in Sierra Leone. Yeama is a Sierra Leonean media development professional who rose through the ranks from a cub-reporter at the Sierra Leone Daily Mail to Editor of The Chronicle newspaper in war time Sierra Leone. During that period she also conceptualised and produced community radio programmes for women and children. During the 2011 Liberian General Elections, as senior trainer for Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Yeama travelled extensively to and around Liberia, working with community radio and Monrovia-based journalists to foster a rights media approach to reporting. She conducted country-wide workshops as well as seminars and editors and owners’ forums designed to engage both senior members of the Liberian media sector and policymakers on public discussion of major issues of concern to Liberian citizens through that time. As an IREX consultant in Liberia, she also led gender sensitive reporting training for Liberian journalists. Her desire to contribute to the empowerment of the marginalised, underprivileged and the less abled from different works of life motivated her to return home in March 2012. As Country Director of Journalists for Human Rights in Sierra Leone (2012-2014), she conceptualised and implemented a human rights reporting strategy which contributed to peaceful elections in 2012. She also work closely with the Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) and, with support from BBC Media Action and Journalists for Human Rights, launched a leadership training initiative for media executives, which has in turn contributed to the development of a strategic action plan for female Sierra Leonean journalists (2013-2015). She is married with two children, Mercy and Livingstone.
CO-FOUNDER & Chair - media Matters for Women USA
Sharon Bylenga is a co-founder and Chair of the International Advisory Board and Steering Committee helping to support the expansion of the organisation's mission and model. She was inspired to set up Media Matters for Women after working for an international NGO partnered with the UN to expand radio coverage and improve programme quality in post-conflict and crisis zones, including Sierra Leone after the civil war. She felt that radio was key to peace and stability, and there must be a better, less energy intensive and expensive way to reach remote villages than radio. She drew inspiration from the music-sharing scene in West Africa using Bluetooth on basic mobile phones. Media Matters for Women USA supports female led organisations in the global South focused on promoting the rights of women and girls in the poorest communities.