Women’s rights activist
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Asmaa James is a journalist and women’s rights activist in Sierra Leone. She launched the Black Tuesday campaign encouraging women to dress in black once per month in order to protest against the increase in the number of rapes and sexual violence against women. This movement prompted Sierra Leone’s president to reform policies to combat sexual violence. She is one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world according to the BBC’s list of “100 Women” for 2019. Born in Freetown and raised as an orphan in Pujehun, Asmaa James had a difficult childhood. She started her career as a radio reporter and is, today, the voice of the “Good Morning Sierra Leone”, a human rights programme on Radio Democracy 98.1. In the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic, she launched a foundation to support girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Asmaa James Foundation aims to improve the lives of girls from marginalised backgrounds by giving them access to reproductive health education, scholarships, mentoring, and life skills training, notably through three flagship programmes: Big Sis-Small Sis Toks, Wi Teen Talk Radio Show, and The Pujehun Girls Trust. The foundation also uses the media to advocate for policies that positively impact women and girls across Sierra Leone. James is a former Vice President of Sierra Leone’s Reporters Union, a member of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow under the Young African Leaders Initiative. In 2014, James was recognised as the most outstanding female journalist in Sierra Leone by the Independent Media Commission.