19 May 2022
Port of Spain, Trinidad – The Caribbean is one step closer to having joint Regional Guidelines for Gender Based Violence (GBV) at the Workplace Level. On Wednesday 18th May, 2022, over 130 persons from 18 Caribbean countries – including Barbados; Grenada; Jamaica; Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago – participated in the Strengthening Regional Co-operation Workshop. The objective of the one-day virtual workshop was to bring employers and employees/workers together to establish a baseline policy for addressing GBV at the Workplace. This joint initiative between the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Confederation of Labour (CCL) is supported by the UNFPA and ILO under the Spotlight Initiative.
Dr. Andre Vincent Henry, Director, Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies (CCLCS) in his Opening Remarks emphasized, “There’s a lot of work to do and we have very little time to do it. Gender Based Violence is a scourge for which we must all take personal responsibility. We must help eradicate it in our various spheres of operation; and this work can be done through this regional labour movement partnership.”
“The objective of this Workshop is to familiarize participants with the minimum ILO standards addressing GBV in the world of work. In a more practical sense, today offers participants the opportunity to review and comment on the Working Document – A Guide to Addressing GBV at the Workplace through Policy,” said Mr. Akins Vidale, Project Lead for the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies. “We are not asking you to rubber stamp this document; you are asked to interrogate the document so we can bring real change to the workplace.”
The online Workshop – hosted by Mr. Ian Daniel, Head of Department, Labour Studies, CCLCS – opened with a Plenary Discussion by Paz Arancibia Roman, ILO Regional Specialist, Gender Equality and Non-discrimination for Latin American and the Caribbean, and Erica Martin, Labour Law and International Labour Standards Specialist, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean. Both speakers emphasized the importance of the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) also known as C190 – the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.
Also present were Asiya Mohammed, GBV Specialist for the Spotlight Initiative at UNFPA’s Sub Regional Office for the Caribbean and Anyka Batista of the Spotlight Initiative Technical Coordination Unit, Trinidad and Tobago.
Focus groups discussions followed the Plenary, where participants were asked to provide feedback on and strengthen the clauses of the working document, which included Employer’s and Employee’s Responsibilities; Training and Education; Reporting GBV Incidents; Special Leave; Confidentiality and Data Protection. Participants also highlighted that many of their workplaces did not have a policy on GBV; that there was limited confidence that confidentiality on reported GBV cases would be respected or that support services would be provided by employers.
One participant – Alice Regis of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union described the workshop as, “Very informative with eye-opening contributions from the groups. It sheds light on what needs to be done and how much is being done at present. I am more educated now on gender-based violence than when I started this workshop. Thank you!”
The Joint Regional Effort between the CEC and the CCL under the Spotlight Initiative will run over a six-month period between April and September 2022. This venture is a significant opportunity for employers, workers, and their representatives to create and shape workplace policies and cultures to efficiently address and eliminate GBV. The CCL and CEC will host a follow up Workshop to integrate final comments on the updated working document on Wednesday 8th June, 2022.
Photo: A screenshot from the Regional Workshop – Strengthening Regional Co-operation Workshop between the CEC and the CCL under the Spotlight Initiative.