Country of Origin:
Graduate Program: Professional Master’s for Development (PMD) in Gender and Agriculture, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
Background & Goals: Isatu Sesay focused on women’s roles in agriculture for approaches to promoting women’s programs, accessing resources, and mobilizing communities to lobby and influence government on gender-related issues.
Post-Degree Projects: Isatu Sesay Kajue serves as the Gender Advisor and Gender-based Technical Specialist for UNFPA Somalia, is the National Chair for the Somalia Gender-based Violence (GBV) Working Group and the Somalia GBV Information Management System (GBVIMS), and Co-Chairs the National FGMC Taskforce with UNICEF.
She has served as Gender Specialist in Zimbabwe and supported the Ministry of Gender on a series of initiatives, including the finalization of the Zimbabwe National GBV Strategy, Standard Operating procedures for the establishment of safe homes, and the roll-out of Gender-based Information Management Systems amongst other achievements. Sesay has worked at the United Nations for over nine years and has been with UNFPA as a Gender Specialist for eight years with experience in Program Design, Formulation, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation, Resource Mobilization and coordination.
Following the completion of her degree, Isatu Sesay worked as a National Consultant on HIV and AIDS for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She focused her energy on HIV and AIDS policy in Sierra Leone specifically on strategies to promote and further develop the UN CARE and the “Caring for Us” programs and policies. She previously worked with the Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project (IRCBP) as the Gender Specialist at the Decentralization Secretariat on Gender. In that position she supported local councils in ensuring gender sensitive and responsive development programming for local communities. Her primary responsibility included ensuring that quality, meaningful leadership by rural women in the local councils was enhanced.
Previously, Sesay worked with UNIFEM in Sierra Leone, coordinating the production and submission of the first national CEDAW report since the treaty was ratified in Sierra Leone in 1988. She also coordinated and supervised the effective implementation of CEDAW in Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. In her position, she worked closely with the Family Support Unit of the police on issues of VAW, and with legislators — both District and National — on non-discriminatory legislative reforms, to address women’s and girl’s human rights. Previously she worked with ActionAid International in Sierra Leone as Gender and HIV/AIDS Coordinator. She also worked with the Africa Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator (Izeduwa) on a capacity needs assessment for HIV Positive Living Women, a study commissioned by UNIFEM-Sierra Leone. She has planned and implemented gender, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS programs using CEDAW, the MDGs, the Beijing Platform for Action and other international instruments.
Post-degree, Sesay offered technical support in the forms of advice, coaching, training and mentoring on gender planning, the development of gender and women’s rights related proposals, gender manuals, budgeting for gender and women’s rights initiatives, women’s rights advocacy strategies and effective mobilization around the advancement of women’s rights. She has also directed trainings on participatory tools such as Participatory Rapid Appraisals, Stepping Stones and Reflect (STAR), Gender Analysis tools, and Entrepreneurship Development Programmes (EDP) at all levels.
Sesay has maintained sound relationships with policy and decision makers on the advancement of women’s rights. Influencing the government’s commitment through the coordination of a task force on a campaign for the education of the girl child seems to be one area of success for Sierra Leone. Please see ActionAid’s Sierra Leone website for more information.