When we join our efforts, we achieve more: More than 50 UN Officials from 22 countries in East and Southern Africa, empowered to implement the UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard and move the needle for gender equality


When different parts of the UN system act together, they can deliver greater results—and maximize the use of scarce resources. Within the UN system, UN Women is mandated to lead, promote and coordinate efforts to advance the full realization of women’s rights and opportunities. The UN General Assembly has called on all parts of the UN system to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women within their mandates.

To this end, the UN Women East and Southern Africa Regional Office brought together more than 50 UN officials from 22 countries for a regional UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard training for UN Country teams in East and Southern Africa. The UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard is an accountability framework that promotes improved planning, coordination, programming and results for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the country level, tied to support to member states to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard training participants got together for a group photo. Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri

Welcoming participants of the training, Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, emphasized the importance of strengthened gender equality in the UN Cooperation Framework and encouraged the participants to show leadership for gender equality, promoting active and meaningful participation of both women and men, and the empowerment of all women and girls.

 “I wish to reiterate the importance of the UN setting standards, by holding itself accountable through tools such as the UNCT SWAP-Gender Equality Scorecard and the Gender Equality Marker. UN Women will continue supporting UN Country Teams where we are present, as well as in countries, where we are a Non-Resident Agency,” said Dr. Houinato.

He also underscored the significance of working as a collective and the importance of accountability to move the needle for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Through the training, participants gained full understanding of the implementation and utilization of the UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard, as well as other tools, such as the Gender Equality Marker, to ensure that women’s and girls’ needs are taken into account in the work of UN agencies.

“Lesotho is in the process of developing the UN Cooperation Framework. Lesotho has the third highest rape rate in the world and the second highest HIV rate; women’s political participation is low.  To change this, we need to ensure that gender is well mainstreamed into our development processes. Therefore, this training is so critical,” said Vimbainashe Mukota, RCO Team Leader and Strategic Planning Specialist from Lesotho.

Group exercise, presentation and peer-to-peer learning were important elements of the training, as participants shared their challenges and tips in gender mainstreaming. Photo: UN Women/James Ochweri.

The objectives of the training were fulfilled through group exercises, presentations and peer-to-peer learning. Knowledge, experience and lessons were shared by the participants from countries whose UNCTs recently conducted the UNCT-SWAP Gender Equality Scorecard exercises. Some of the achievements shared by participants were the stronger attention to gender equality in the countries, joint programming to benefit women and girls, and the requirement of new programmes to be reviewed by the Gender Pillar Groups.

“South Sudan completed the UNCT SWAP assessment last year. The process helped us to identify our areas of strengths and weaknesses, strengthened the role of the UN Gender Thematic Group, but also created new opportunities. The team set up the Gender Parity Pledge and developed the guidelines on practical steps to achieve and monitor the Gender Parity Pledge by each UN agency,” explained Alinane Kamlongera, the Gender Humanitarian Advisor at UN Women South Sudan.

Participants also appreciated the opportunity to hear about each other’s experiences, openly discuss challenges in mainstreaming gender in their work, be inspired by successful implementation and best practices, and make important connections to drive the gender equality agenda within the UN and through UN programming.

“In Ethiopia, thanks to strong leadership and commitment, we were able to ensure strong gender mainstreaming in the UN Cooperation Framework. Gender is mainstreamed across all four outcomes and UN Women is present in all Action Groups. We are now planning to train all Action Groups on gender mainstreaming and conduct a Gender Audit in all UN agencies. I would like to thank the training organizers for bringing us – especially RCO colleagues from different countries - together to exchange best practices,” said Emawayish Seme, Gender, Youth and Inclusion Specialist from UNRCO Ethiopia.

All participants unanimously agreed that UN agencies should promote gender equality and the empowerment of women within their mandates and ensure that commitments on paper lead to progress on the ground. Having the Resident Coordinator in the driver’s seat leading the gender mainstreaming process, working together to generate data and evidence, and having dedicated gender experts on the UN Country Team were mentioned as keys to success.