Malian journalist and media entrepreneur Hawa Séméga Togola passed away
Free Press Unlimited is saddened by the sudden passing of Malian journalist and media entrepreneur Hawa Séméga Togola. She was a highly appreciated and important partner in establishing accessible and inclusive media in Mali. Throughout her career, Hawa's aim was to improve the position of women in and through media, making her a role-model for a new generation of young and independent women in Mali.
In the early morning of May 30th 2021, precisely on Mother's day, she died after having given birth to her third child, who also did not survive. She leaves behind her husband Tidiani Togola and their two children.
This tragic event stresses the necessity for better and affordable access to healthcare for pregnant women in Mali, in particular in a country where 91 per cent of women and girls, aged 15-49, have undergone some form of Female Genital Mutilation. Hawa Séméga Togala was an outspoken opponent of this practice, which is deeply rooted in Malian tradition and culture.
The international French speaking TV channel TV5 Monde honored Hawa Séméga Togola (at 25:58) in its evening news edition on yesterday's international Mother's Day.
The collaboration of Free Press Unlimited and Hawa Séméga Togola goes back to 2016, including financial and strategic support to her Bamako based Web TV outlet Kunafoni.com. As the founder and director, she was involved in the creation of innovative formats, such as the "rapped news journal" JT rappé, which was awarded by OIF, FMM and RSF in 2018 as the second most innovative media production in the Francophone world.
Hawa was also actively involved in lobby and advocacy activities aiming to improve the enabling environment for female journalists. She was an active member at APPEL-Mali, which represents the interest of online media outlets in Mali, as well as FORMA, an initiative aiming to improve the work ethics of journalists in Mali.
We remember Hawa Séméga Togola as an empathetic and talented media professional, open minded and warm-hearted, thriving for a better and inclusive Mali for everyone.
In her last email conversation with FPU she described what she thought is the most needed with regards to female empowerment in the Malian media sector:
"The biggest challenge today for Malian female journalists remains gender stereotypes. It is essential that our media get organised, and show more attention and consideration to the women they employ. Let them be given the opportunity to express their full potential. At Kunafoni.com, we make sure to respect equity and gender equality in our news room. An example that I invite my fellow media bosses to follow for the flourishing and good development of female journalism. Women have potential, you just have to give them the opportunity to express it."
Hawa herself took all the opportunities given to her. Unfortunately her life and her inspiring journey ended too soon.
We express our sincere condolences to her husband Tidiani Togola, her children, family and colleagues at Kunafoni.com.