The United Nations commitment to gender equality can be traced to its Charter, and numerous subsequent resolutions of its different organs and specialized agencies. Different agencies have committed themselves to mainstreaming gender in their programmes and structures. Gender is a crosscutting issue in the UN Reform process, and accordingly the UNCT in Sierra Leone is resolved to mainstream gender in the CCA/UNDAF process and documents. Gender is a crosscutting and central concern for the UNDAF objectives, and in all the priority thematic areas of UNDAF. However, the inter-agency assessment of CCA/UNDAF and PRSP processes and documents in West and Central African regions noted significant weaknesses in this regard, and recommended strengthened leadership and coordination among UN agencies. A gender-responsive implementation of UNDAF implies a continued need for the country team to develop and tap into expertise and technical support of a dedicated gender team. A first step has been made by individual agencies that have a designated gender officer or gender focal point.
The proposed Theme Group will be a forum for further developing capacities, providing technical support to agencies, the Resident Coordinator, single issue theme groups, and the various coordination groups of the UN System in Sierra Leone. The Theme Group will provide leadership towards systematically and effectively addressing gender perspectives in the context of the UN's assistance to Sierra Leone, particularly within the context of UNDAF and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It will be an instrument for dialogue and the development of common strategies, programmes and action plans in appropriate circumstances. The Theme Group will be a forum for the UN system to interact with other development actors, including donor agencies, government and NGOs, committed to gender responsiveness in development practice.