As part of the Government of Sierra Leone’s (GoSL’s) effort to promote good governance in the management of the public service, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs requested for the conduct of a Management and Functional Review. The objective of the Review was to put into effect the presidential directive for the gender and children’s affairs functions to be severed from the erstwhile Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. This presidential directive was given in light of the major challenges affecting women and children and the need for a proper structure to be established, which would create a clear alignment of mandate and functions with the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP).
Over the years, the mandate of the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs has been merged and delinked depending on the political priorities of Governments. For instance, in the late ‘nineties’ the Government of Sierra Leone merged the then Ministries of Social Welfare and Gender and Children’s Affairs to form a single Ministry. Although the Ministry was required to work as an integrated component, in practice it operated from two perspectives, having different and conflicting functions. This situation was considered inappropriate and did not promote esprit de corps, as assessed by the current political dispensation. Therefore, the presidential directive to separate the Gender and Children’s Affairs portfolio from Social Welfare was considered to carry policy and administrative significance.
The 1991 Constitution and a number of laws provide the statutory framework and mandate for the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs (modified after the separation). Some of the laws are over sixty years old and some provisions in these laws are obsolete and need review to meet the present day needs of the new establishment.
Though the mandate of the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs has a clear policy and operational directives, it was observed that it overlaps with a number of other Ministries, Agencies, Commissions and the Local Councils and these overlaps need to be clarified among the policy institutions and implementing agencies. However, the mandate relating to women remains valid, as
‘women’ related issues/gender mainstreaming have not yet reached the level of awareness where it is integrated into the mainstream of institutions. We have however, made recommendations concerning these overlaps.
The present organization structure of the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs is considered a temporal arrangement. Its current limitations is that it is dysfunctional and inappropriate to drive the Ministry to the new direction required. The underlying reason for this is that it is a new Ministry and the apparent lack of an effective policy process could lead to weak planning and inability to deliver on its mandate. It is clearly evident that the policy making process is ad hoc, reactive and does not provide direction or support for the senior tier and political leadership of the Ministry. To this end, an appropriate organization structure has been recommended for adoption by the Ministry. The qualities and characteristics of the recommended structure have been outlined and discussed with the top political and administrative echelon of the Ministry.
Given the fact that the Ministry is relatively new, little has been done towards implementing the Government’s decentralization policy. The reasons cited are that the current staff strength and structure could not effectively handle policy coordination and oversight functions of programmes, coupled with present budgetary allocations which are grossly inadequate for any meaningful programmes to be carried out at a wider scale.
The Review Team commenced the MFR process with a preliminary consultative meeting held with the leadership including the Minister, senior and Middle Management staff of the Ministry during which presentation was made on the scope, methodology, approaches and resources needed to conduct the MFR. A field exercise was conducted to assess the decentralized institutional infrastructure of the Ministry, and to also have one-on-one interviews with staff in the Regional and District Offices.
Though the MFR process has been a collaborative exercise involving PSRU and HRMO, the full commitment was needed from the leadership of the Ministry. As such, PSRU would like to commend the leadership commitment exhibited by the Honourable Minister and the Permanent Secretary towards the accomplishment of this MFR. However, all attempts have been made to represent the views expressed during one-on-one interviews and Focus Group Discussion at the Regional and District Level, and responses from questionnaires as accurately as possible. Feedback from stakeholders suggests that the Ministry needs to work on developing its external relationship management and we recommend the development of a Public Education Outreach Unit whose purpose will be to focused on the dissemination of information related to the programmes of the Ministry.