With support from the United Nations Partnership and Irish Aid, the Deputy Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs (MoGCA), Mr. Hindowa Bindi on Thursday 17th August 2023 officially opened the Gender Mainstreaming Workshop for Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) Focal Persons (16th-19th August 2023) at the Fabulous Resort, York Village along the Freetown Peninsula.
The main objective of the workshop is to equip MDAs Gender Focal persons / Units with the required knowledge and skills for effective gender mainstreaming across Sectoral Policies, Legislative frameworks and strategic plans.
In his address to officially declare the workshop open, the Deputy Minister enlightened that the interactive workshop is to build the capacity of participants to mainstream gender policies into their programs which he stressed is mandatory for all MDAs as well as for them to have Gender Units and disclosed that the workshop would look at the global, regional and other frameworks and discuss the way forward.
Mr. Hindowa Bindi went on to commend President Julius Maada Bio for enacting the GEWE Act, appealed to participants to critically look at the Act, revealed that the Act is not only about the appointment of women into cabinet and other positions but to address other salient issues, that 37% of women have been appointed as Ministers and Deputies, that there are 41 female Members of Parliament and that the Ministry is yearning for Gender Focal Persons who are professionals.
He furthered that the Act also talks about women’s economic empowerment, that this time they would monitor and evaluate progress made in the implementation of the Act, that MDAs must comply with the law as well as establish Gender Units in all MDAs that must be operational and effective. He commended development partners like the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone for their invaluable support.
Various speakers underscored that the workshop is organized in phases to mainstream gender in all programs as this is important for the country’s development.
Earlier in his welcome statement, the Deputy Chief of Professional Head in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Mr. Charles Vandy underscored that although it is not new in Sierra Leone, the gender agenda is gaining momentum. He stressed the need for MDAs to integrate gender into their laws, programs and strategies and observed that in the past the Gender Focal Points in MDAs were Administrative Officers who had been transferred.
He further stated that the workshop is to empower participants to mainstream gender issues and assured that the workshop would be hands on training covering sessions on understanding basic gender concepts, Gender analysis, Gender Mainstreaming, Gender Budgeting and Planning, legal and policy frameworks among others.
According to Mr. Charles Vandi, 14 MDAs are participating in the gender mainstreaming workshop, gave an in-depth knowledge on the content of the GEWE Act and basic gender concepts to enhance their work.
He however cautioned that the two and half days’ workshop is meant to qualify participants as gender experts and informed the meeting that the Exclusive Management Team (EMT) of the Ministry made sure that Gender Focal Points this time around are professionals of the various line Ministries who are not liable to transfer to other entities.
He further thanked the UN Country Team, especially UN Women, for supporting the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs on the promotion of gender issues and the empowerment of women and concluded by calling on all to take this workshop seriously as it would empower them to do their work.
Ms. Mariama Gbao of UN Women gave a solidarity message and support on behalf of the Head of Office, UN Women and the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone. She applauded the Government of Sierra Leone on the gains made so far in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women as manifested through the enactment of the GEWE Bill 2022.
The Director of Planning, Mr. Ibrahim Kamara shared the objectives of the gender mainstreaming workshop and also alluded that several topics will be covered during the workshop including: understanding Basic Concepts on Gender and Sex, Gender Roles, Gender Equality, Gender Equity and Gender Division and Labor, Masculinity and Femininity, Patriarchy, Stereotypes, Intersectionality, Practical and Strategic Gender Needs.
The opening session was chaired by Goodie M. Sowonie, Director of Gender in the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs.
Ministries targeted for Phase one of the training included the Ministries of Basic and Senior Secondary Education; Lands and Country Planning, Youth Affairs; Labour and Employment, Mines and Mineral Resources, Agriculture; Environment; Fisheries and Marine Resources; Transport; Trade and Industry; Social Welfare; Defence; Internal Affairs and Works and Public Assets.
Phase II will continue in the next few weeks targeting additional Ministries.