The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs with support from Sustainable Nutrition and Agriculture Program (SNAP) and USAID, yesterday 19th November 2013 ended the first phase of Gender Mainstreaming training for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the Civil Service Training College at State House Avenue in Freetown.
Objectives of the training was to develop a shared understanding of gender roles, explore strategies to ensure integration of women’s input into activities, programmes and policies, discuss supervision and monitoring gender integration and most importantly, understand the roles and responsibilities of the gender focal persons and roles of other gender partners in facilitating the works of the Gender Focal Persons in all MDAs.
Speaking at the closing session of the training, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Alhaji Moijue Kaikai said there will be no development in a country if that country fails to address the issues of gender mainstreaming.
He defined gender mainstreaming as being a key component in the Agenda for Prosperity of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, noting that no country can achieve the Human Development Index and the Millennium Development Goals without addressing gender issues. Alhaji Kaikai furthered that for far too long now, women have been left behind in decision making and that of the development of Sierra Leone.
This gap according to him is now being bridged by the current government.
He revealed that government through his ministry is working assiduously to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in Sierra Leone, whilst calling for a strong collaboration between Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the enhancement of gender issues.
Earlier on addressing participants at the opening session of the training, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Mustapha Bai Atilla said the Ernest Bai Koroma led government has been working very hard to ensure that women and girls in Sierra Leone are empowered for the development of the country.
He said gender mainstreaming is an integration of gender issues into plans, policies and legislation, noting that Sierra Leone has taken the lead in promoting gender issues among other African countries.
The deputy minister revealed that under the current government, gender issues have been devolved into local councils and that as a ministry responsible for providing technical advice to gender issues in the country, they will ensure that adequate trainings are conducted for the respective local councils to continue promoting women’s issues.
Minister Atilla acknowledged that one major challenge facing gender issues in Sierra Leone is the patriarchal system, wherein most high-level decisions are being taken by men and not women.
The Agenda for Prosperity, he went on, designated a whole pillar to the promotion of gender issues in the country.
Chief of Party at SNAP, Georgia Beans said her organization focuses on sustainable nutrition for agricultural programmes. She said collaborative partnership is much more important, thus the partnership between her organization and the Government of Sierra Leone through MDAs will ensure that the goal of gender mainstreaming and food sufficiency is enhanced.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.