Tovian Estella Nelson, director and founder of Liberian Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC), developed the first and only radio station in Liberia solely dedicated to women to secure their status by relating information that can save their lives.
Quite recently during the visit of UN Women’s Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Estella, as she is commonly known, was respected for her initiative said with her continuous purpose and sincere inspiration, LIWOMAC could become the next biggest radio platform.
“I want to congratulate you for having this radio station as a beckon of light for women. There is a lot of information in the broadcast world that is not customized for women, their health or to motivate them to be entrepreneurs, especially those in rural areas. Little did I know that somewhere in Liberia someone has developed a radio station that is relating this information and already advancing, one of these days you will compete with CNN, who knows,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka added.
According to Estella, who spoke with emotion during Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka’s visit, her drive to create such a platform did not come from an idea, but rather from within that is related to an experience she had as a child.
“I was raped at eight years-old and can remember it like it was yesterday, I can remember that morning because I was so hungry. When it happened I gave something in exchange that was my esteem, my emotions and my sociological wellbeing. This is why I do the work that I do, I’m not a journalist but a social worker,” she adds, “I understand the power of the media and how it can bring change. At this point in Liberia, women’s stories need to be told in a way that their issues can be addressed and situations can be improved.”
However, Estella added that a lot of people use radio for evil, because it is used for selfish and personal reasons, but should rather be used for the betterment of Liberia.
“Security for women matters a lot. We are talking of UNMIL’s drawdown, maybe the noise is not really loud in the public’s eye in saying how people are afraid of what’s happening in the political scene and they are concerned,” she says.
Accepting Estella’s judgment, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka acknowledges that she is aware of the political suspicion that women face for the 2017 elections and acknowledges that women need stations like LIWOMAC to face those fears.
“Very soon we will be preparing for elections and women will need information. Through you women can interrogate the candidates and find out information about what changes this candidate can bring; what difference they will make for women before the elections so women can know who to vote. I think providing a platform for women candidates running for office so they can also explain their own policy is important,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka adds.
Meanwhile, LIWOMAC says it will continue to highlight the basic issues, including the rights of women and also educating the Liberian community with all the necessary information and guidelines that relate to peace keeping. But in doing so, it will need the continuous support of UN Women.
“Some of the things I think UN Women should be doing is to see how they can work with women, we have the constitution review concept and I think women are stronger, yet we still need more support, also capacity development. If we have women leaders, we can count them on one hand, now that we have more women who are willing to come forward, ready to stand up, I believe that we should not miss this opportunity,” she adds.
“We should be able to give resources to women that are needed to do the type of work that they need to do, not just to make peace but to also include conditions at the level of family, community and national levels,” Estella says.
For now, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka adds that she would like to see LIWOMAC go from strength to strength because UN Women will continue to be a part of LIWOMAC’s growth.
“You can count on us as you take a step forward. Good luck and keep up the good work never lose hope. I was so impressed by how articulate you are and how communicative with strength and power you are, never lose that because it’s very important,” she adds.