Gender Equality Seal Awards: Sierra Leone Bags Silver

On the 19th January 2021, the Sierra Leone country office was awarded with a Silver Certification in recognition of its work towards achieving gender equality in its programming and operations. The UNDP Gender Equality Seal Awards 2018-2020 ceremony was held virtually on at the Ceremony effort in mainstreaming gender in its processes and programs.

The Gender Equality Seal is a corporate certification process that recognizes good performance of UNDP Country Offices, Regional Service Centers and Regional Bureau in delivering transformative results for gender equality. Its process combines quality assurance with learning and capacity building of staff--a tool to empower managers and accelerate changes needed to support national gender equality goals to expedite internal efficiency to a visible result. With the three levels of certification, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, UNDP offices or units will be certified according to their gender equality accomplishment as determined by an internal committee through an intensive review process.

An Encouragement for realizing Goal 5

Launched in 2011, the Gender Equality Seal incentivizes UNDP Country Offices to integrate gender equality into all aspects of their development work. Upon completing a range of specific standards, participating UNDP Country Offices can achieve either a Gold, Silver or Bronze level certification. By engaging with the Seal, UNDP Country Offices are better positioned to support government partners and accelerate progress towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

To receive a Gender Equality Seal, standards must be met in the following seven areas:

  • Management Systems;
  • In-house Capacities;
  • Enabling Environment;
  • Communications and Knowledge Management;
  • Programmes;
  • Partnerships; and
  • Gender Equality Impact/Results

Country Office achievements are marked by a range of significant contributions to gender equality. 

‘’Having the Silver awards has sparked some energy within the Country Office to make more efforts in advancing Gender Equality. The Office looks forward to getting a Gold Award in the next Gender Seal. The Office has seen the importance of mainstreaming gender in its processes, programs, and communications,’’ says Kadiatu Bachelle Taylor, Gender Analyst-UNDP in Sierra Leone.

Mainstreaming Gender in and outside the Country Office

The Silver Awards to the Country Office was realized as a result of concerted efforts from Senior Management, programs, and operations team in systematically mainstreaming gender. In fulfilling the 30 out of 42 benchmarks, UNDP Sierra Leone got 72% of the final score serving as a significant improvement from a baseline of 66% in the 2015-2016 assessment.

UNDP Sierra Leone Senior Management’s commitment was instrumental to ensuring that Gender Equality issues are prioritized. This is demonstrated in the development of a Gender Equality strategy and in reflecting gender outcomes in its programming. The Country Office also worked hard to ensure that Gender is mainstreamed in its Country Programme Document (CPD) 2020-2023, mainstreaming gender outcomes into its Project Documents and Portfolio-monitoring and evaluating all coordinated through a Gender focal person sitting within the Programme Support Unit.

Supporting towards the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 - Gender Equality, the Country Office contributed to the advancement of national gender equality plans as seen through the office’s support to Parliament which resulted in the adoption of a resolution on women, peace, and security. UNDP played a key role in the Sierra Leone National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 & 1820 on gender and violence against women.

The country office also supported a land policy that protects the rights of inheritance and ownership of land for women, including spouses, widows, unmarried daughters, divorcees, women in co-habitation and their children.

The Office’s success in transformative impact and results is linked to a few strong internal mechanisms for gender equality. With a strong Gender Equality Strategy and Action Plan in place, the Country Office has systematized substantive gender analysis in programming across all clusters and monitors the results of gender work--partnerships for gender equality across key government ministries, such as with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and with women’s organizations- are advancing gender mainstreaming across sectors.

Looking into the future for Gender Equality in the Sierra Leone Country Office

“The Gender Equality Seal Process presented Sierra Leone Country Office team with concrete means of mainstreaming gender equality in all we do and say with the gender seal benchmarks serving as stepping stones in our Gender Journey, re-enforcing the adage that ‘walking alone you can walk fast but as a team we can walk far.” As a Country Office, we need to keep our eyes on the GOLD and collectively walk the miles in our journey to achieve it,’’ says Musu Bangura-UNDP Gender Specialist in Sierra Leone.