September 20, 2023
PRESIDENT of Caribbean Employers Confederation (CEC) Wayne Chen has charged that the workplace must become another line of defence against gender-based violence (GBV), and has called on Caribbean businesses to establish policies to ensure that this is the case.
Chen made the call as he delivered the opening remarks at the launch of a gender-based violence (GBV) workplace policy which is part of the Caribbean regional programme of European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative, designed to empower employers to play their part in the workplace to end violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Under the theme ‘From awareness to action — transforming the caribbean workplace to end violence against women’, the launch of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-led initiative featured a range of speakers representing the interests of labour, as well as the regional diplomatic corps.
A total of eight businesses from Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago formally demonstrated their commitment to implementing policies to end gender-based violence in the workplace, during a signing ceremony of the official policy.
In addressing the gathering Chen noted that the milestones from Phase I of the project include the creation of a gender-based violence workplace tool kit, communications materials, and training programmes.
He added that Phase II would see support being provided to Caribbean employers to apply these tools to their respective industries and business places.
This aspect will be completed in four phases, with emphasis on areas as broad as gender equality, victim-centred support, recruitment, reporting, and self-defence training.
The CEC president also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the issue of VAWG, making the need for initiatives that can create lasting change even more urgent.
David Mogollon, head of cooperation, Delegation of the European Union, also addressed the forum, describing GBV in the workplace as “simply unacceptable”.
He emphasised that interventions in the workplace must be culturally appropriate and embedded within the organisation, to ensure that there is a “zero-tolerance approach” at various levels of its structure so as to bring about meaningful change.
Jenny Karlsen, deputy director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office, Caribbean, noted: “It is our collective duty which necessitates the support of everyone — from leadership to individuals — to foster a safe working environment for everyone because every person, regardless of gender, deserves to work in an environment free from fear, intimidation, or violence. Together we can make a difference that touches the lives of every individual — particularly women and girls in the Caribbean.”
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