The Gender Mainstreaming Workshop for key Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) has concluded, marking a significant step towards strengthening gender integration in various sectors. With collaborative support from the United Nations Partnership and Irish Aid, the Deputy Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs (MoGCA), Hindowa Bindi, inaugurated the event on August 17, 2023.
Held at the picturesque Fabulous Resort in York Village along the Freetown Peninsula, the workshop aimed to equip MDAs’ Gender Focal Persons/Units with the essential knowledge and skills necessary for effective gender mainstreaming. This entails embedding gender considerations across Sectoral Policies, Legislative frameworks, and strategic plans.
In his opening address, Deputy Minister, Hindowa Bindi, emphasized the workshop’s interactive nature and its role in bolstering participants’ capacity to incorporate gender policies into their programs. Stressing its mandatory nature for all MDAs, he underscored the importance of establishing Gender Units within these entities. The workshop delved into global and regional frameworks, charting a path forward for gender integration.
Commending President Julius Maada Bio for enacting the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Act, Bindi called for a comprehensive examination of the Act’s provisions. He revealed that the Act extends beyond women’s appointments to various positions, addressing crucial issues. Notably, he highlighted that 37% of ministerial and deputy positions are now held by women, and 41 female Members of Parliament are contributing to the country’s leadership.
The workshop also emphasized women’s economic empowerment, signaling a commitment to monitor and assess the Act’s implementation progress. Bindi urged MDAs to adhere to the law and establish operational and effective Gender Units. Acknowledging the vital role of development partners, he expressed gratitude to the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone for their unwavering support.
Several speakers highlighted the workshop’s phased approach, designed to integrate gender considerations systematically into all programs, aligning with the nation’s development trajectory.
Charles Vandy, Deputy Chief Professional Head in the Ministry of Social Welfare, welcomed participants and stressed the workshop’s importance in advancing the gender agenda. Vandy underlined the need for MDAs to integrate gender perspectives into their legal frameworks, programs, and strategies. He assured that the workshop would provide hands-on training on essential gender concepts, analysis, mainstreaming, budgeting, and planning.
The workshop saw the participation of 14 MDAs, with Charles Vandi providing detailed insights into the GEWE Act and fundamental gender concepts. He cautioned that the rigorous two-and-a-half-day workshop aimed to qualify participants as gender experts.
In her solidarity message, Ms. Mariama Gbao of UN Women lauded Sierra Leone’s progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, evident in the enactment of the GEWE Bill 2022. The Director of Planning, Ibrahim Kamara, highlighted the workshop’s objectives, with planned sessions covering a wide range of gender-related topics.
Chaired by Goodie M. Sowonie, Director of Gender in the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, the opening session set the tone for robust discussions on gender mainstreaming. Phase I of the training focused on 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 is set to unfold in the coming weeks, targeting additional Ministries as the nation strives for enhanced gender integration and equality across sectors.