The Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and labour organisation the Caribbean Confederation of Labour (CCL) are taking a collaborative approach to develop joint regional policies and advocacy strategies for the eradication of violence against women and girls at the workplace level. The employer and labour bodies, supported by the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA and the International Labour Organization (ILO), hosted a Virtual Launch of the Joint Regional Effort under the Spotlight Initiative on Wednesday, April 6.
Alison Drayton, Director, UNFPA Caribbean Sub-Regional Office in her Feature Address emphasised the importance of the effort: “This project will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace. Participants will be exposed to concepts, policies and practices for addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in the workplace through easy-to-understand and relatable text and video. We expect this to lead to an increase in the knowledge of young, vulnerable and marginalised women and male allies about national policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as broaden their understanding of gender equality.”
“There is a glaring inconsistency between legislative commitments, policies and action. In the months ahead we must do the hard work to create the necessary framework to safeguard our places of work against all forms of gender-based violence. We in the CCL are fully committed to this effort and we are here to be counted as an ally in this cause,” affirmed Andre Lewis – President, CCL.
CEC President Wayne Chen also supported this view, adding the importance of male involvement: “A collaborative approach like this can certainly make real and tangible improvements to the lives of women and girls, and by extension, men and boys also, because it is not just women and girls who can be liberated from the stain of violence.”
“The underlying base of gender-based violence is rooted in long-standing historical, cultural practices. The hardest change is the change of mindsets in a society that has been male-dominated for centuries. We have the responsibility to change the minds of our colleagues and younger men to move away from these issues. It is necessary. We will lead by example and we will lead as mentors and we have a commitment to making this happen,” Chen added.
Lars Johansen, Deputy Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean explained, “There is a clear link between the home and the workplace that cannot be ignored. The workplace can contribute to being a support structure for survivors of gender-based violence – a safe place to provide legal advice, support and other resources to victims. Also, work and income can provide an opportunity to survivors of domestic and family violence to leave the situation they are in. This is why this project is so important.”
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. This venture is a significant opportunity for employers, workers and their representatives to create and shape workplace policies and cultures to directly confront GBV. On April 27, employer organisations and labour unions will meet for a one-day conference with the aim of reviewing a working policy document that will address GBV in the workplace.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the EU and the UN to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.