Award-winning Sierra Leonean journalist, activist and writer, Isha Sesay has been appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, where she will help raise awareness about the global scourge of violence against women and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation.
As the daughter of a survivor of female genital mutilation, and the granddaughter of someone who performed the harmful practice in Sierra Leone, Ms. Sesay always knew that she wanted to use her voice, position and power to fight against the injustices, abuses and violence women and girls face around the world.
“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the urgency of this fight against gender-based violence,” said Ms. Sesay.
“She added: “As a Black, African woman from Sierra Leone, a nation challenged by gender inequity and sexual violence, I am enormously proud to be taking on the role of UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and to committing my voice, privilege and position to their effort to achieve much delayed and much-needed change.”
This call for justice and equality set the stage for this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, where the world unites to end abuse and discrimination against women and girls.
As violence continues to rise amid the pandemic, with 15 million additional instances of gender-based violence projected for every 3 months of lockdown, taking action has never been more imperative.
“Isha Sesay is a gifted storyteller who has used her platform to elevate the voices of some of the world’s most marginalized women and girls,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “She is a passionate advocate with a unique ability to inspire adolescent girls in Africa and beyond to believe in their own agency and potential. UNFPA is delighted to welcome Ms. Sesay as a Goodwill Ambassador, championing issues at the heart of our mandate.”
From 2005 to 2018, Ms. Sesay worked for CNN, where she focused on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls. Her coverage of Boko Haram’s abduction of 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, in 2014, won a Peabody Award. In 2019, she authored a book about the Chibok girls, “Beneath the Tamarind Tree.”
Ms. Sesay is also the founder, and president of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit organization working in Sierra Leone, to nurture and empower teenage girls to become Africa’s next generation of dynamic female leaders.