AudienceScapes Field Blog
KEY COMMUNICATION AND DEVELOPMENT WEBSITES AND PROJECTS
Sierra Leone Gender
Although Overall Media Use and Access is Low in Sierra Leone, Women Face Particularly Arduous Structural, Educational and Linguistic Barriers.
Women in Sierra Leone are still recovering from the gender-based violence during the civil war that ended in 2002.  In addition, due to a historical lack of equal rights for women, they also tend to suffer many systemic prejudices in the country. For example, women were close to 15 percentage points more likely than men in the survey to say they have no education (men 55 percent, women 69 percent). Female respondents were also less likely than men to identify themselves as skilled workers or technicians, teachers, or work in an office.
Besides access to education and higher socio-economic standards, an additional language barrier also exists for women in Sierra Leone, according to the survey (chart 1). Women are less likely than men to be able to speak and read English and Kreole, limiting their social mobility and access to information.
All these factors affect media access and consumption in Sierra Leone for women. Read more to see how…..
Radio Access and Use:
Economic development in Sierra Leone has been slow; partly because the reconstruction needs are so great. Lack of economic development and access to education and income limits access and use of media and communication technologies for both genders.  Indeed, computer and internet access remains rare and even television ownership and viewership is a luxury. In this scenario, radio is the most important and accessible medium for both men and women.
- Since radios are relatively cheaper than other media technologies, 80 percent of men and 76 percent of women have household access to them. However, due to frequent shortages of electricity, almost all of these devices run on batteries rather than electricity (see chart 2).
- For health information sources as well, the highest proportion of both men and women listed radio as their most important source.
- Health centers/doctors/clinics were next in importance for health information, but men were 14 percentage points more likely to consider information on radio more important than what they heard at their health centers/doctors/clinics. Women on the other hand, were equally likely to trust the health center or something they heard on radio (30 percent men relied on health centers/doctors/clinics whereas 34 percent women did)
(Read more on health and information dissemination here).
- Most men as well as women said they listen to radio at home; community listening at friends’ or neighbors’ homes is not common.
- Men were slightly more likely than women to say that they listen exclusively on their own, and women more likely than men to listen with others.
- As mentioned earlier, a language barrier exists for women in Sierra Leone, which in turn also affects their listening habits. Women are less likely than men to listen to listen in English, Krio and Temne. This might not be serious impediment, as some radio stations broadcast in a variety of languages, but the inability to comprehend some languages probably limits their choice.
Access and Use for other Media and ICTs:
- Only 14 percent men and eight percent women said they had ever read a newspaper.
- Only about 15% to 18% of both men and women had ever watched television. As would be expected, very few men and women said they had ever used the internet.
 Jaffa Conteh, Ibrahim. "Women, Girls Suffer Gender-Based Violence". Concord Times. 16 December 2009. Freetown, Sierra Leone. Accessed January 2010 from allafrica.com. http://allafrica.com/stories/200912160773.html