Facia is a radio producer with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Liberia faces many challenges—including economic devastation and high levels of sexual violence—in the aftermath of a 14-year civil war that finally ended in 2003.
In a country where access to the Internet is difficult and expensive, radio plays a very powerful role. For example, during this current Ebola crisis, activists and ministries have shared regular updates and public health tips through radio programs.
Facia says that when the Liberian civil war ended in 2003, radio campaigns were used to create awareness about the peace process and to raise issues impacting women—including rape. Women used the radio to share their experiences of the war and provide hope to other women—many of whom were listening from remote regions of the country.
These days, through her radio show “Girl Power,” Facia allows girls and young women to speak out about their issues and connect with mentors and policy makers about the advancement of young women and girls. The program takes on difficult topics like fistula—a sometimes life-threatening injury to the vaginal or anal area, often resulting from sexual violence. In post conflict Liberia, young girls are often targeted for rape.
But Facia says not all the news is bad for girls in Liberia.
She notes that Liberia’s glass ceiling has been broken with the country’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected in 2006, and prominent women activists such as Nobel peace laureate Leymah Gbowee. Role models such as these two women boost the courage of other young women to take on leadership roles.
Women in Liberia now have space “at the table”—but are still fighting for equality.
“We've identified our space, and what we are working on is to claim it, and to continuously make our voices and our issues heard.”—Facia Harris
Liberian Radio Station Gives Women the Controls, by Juhie Bhatia, WENews, January 12, 2011.
At the frontlines, Liberian women adopt new strategies for Ebola response, UN Women, October 10, 2014.
Catch up on the Nobel Women's Initiative 2013 Delegation to Liberia