Benbere was launched in Mali in June 2018. The platform aims to build an online community of young people from across Mali fed by a pool of Malian bloggers. From Timbuktu to Mopti, Benbere fosters conversations among young people on key issues that are affecting them while perceptions increasing conflicts are particularly challenging trust between communities.
A broad network of bloggers from all over the country represent the viewpoints of Mali’s different communities with content reflecting the country’s cultural diversity. These contributors are coordinated by Benbere teams based in Mali’s two main cities, the capital Bamako in the South and Timbuktu in the North.
Highlights of 2019
Acknowledgement by ministries
Until recently bloggers were regularly stigmatised by Malian authorities and prevented from exercising their right to free expression, for instance when internet has been partly shut down during election periods. In 2019, however, the Malian Minister of Digital Economy and Foresight made a public appearance at the Benbere office in Bamako to meet with the team.
She congratulated them for the important role they play in society and said she always reads Benbere's articles and that "the door of her department remains open for all bloggers". The visit was widely covered in Mali’s press and successfully reinforced the legitimacy of bloggers’ voices and the space for freer public discourse in Malian society.
Gender Based Violence
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign, Benbere published a series of articles under the hashtag #MaliSansVBG and organised offline events including performances by artists and actors popular with young Malians. Gender-Based Violence is a serious problem in Mali but remains largely taboo.
The Benbere team aimed to raise awareness and start a broader conversation around the issue. Offline activities included a theatre piece highlighting the harmful consequences of GBV.
In total around 1,000 people attended the performances and in a survey at the end of each show, 90% of the young people interviewed said they learned a lot about GBV. As a result of the campaign, Benbere was invited to the World Bank office in Mali, for their awareness day against GBV and took part in a panel with the representative of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the evaluator of the national programme to combat GBV.
Benbere in 2019
(40% women users)
“Benbere has done incredible work with this campaign. It has convinced young people they should and could be politically mobilised around issues that directly affected them and they are now convinced that they can change the course of things.”
Message from Mirjam Tjassing, former Political advisor at the Dutch Embassy, currently representative of NIMD for Sahel, based in Bamako