By Sue-Ann Wayow
GENDER-based violence and abuse in the workplace should not be tolerated and as such, an anti-gender based violence initiative is being launched specifically for the private sector.
The purpose of the initiative is to prevent all forms of gender-based violence and abuse in the workplace and to help companies develop a workplace policy that supports employees who are victims of gender-based violence.
It is being developed by the University of the West Indies, UWI Institute of Gender and Development Studies, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and AMCHAM T&T.
In a press release by AMCHAM T&T, Nirad Terwarie, chief executive officer of AMCHAM T&T said, “AMCHAM T&T has been a strong advocate for the promotion of women’s leadership in business and fighting for equality to build a progressive, fully democratic society.
“Removing obstacles that limit the potential of women to advance in their careers should be a priority for all companies if they intend to reduce gender inequality in their organisations.”
He said, “The training is intended to assist companies to provide resources that will offer support for victims of gender-based violence and identify means to possibly hold more perpetrators accountable.
“AMCHAM T&T believes that implementing workplace policies on gender-based violence will ultimately have a positive impact on the organisation whereby employees are made to feel safe, protected and empowered. Ultimately, this is the type of workplace culture that drives higher rates of productivity, profitability, and performance.”
Tewarie said using data from that initiative, AMCHAM T&T will also be partnering with other companies to explore and hopefully develop initiatives to more effectively protect victims of intimate partner violence adding that perpetrators needed to be stopped rather than the victims being soothed.
Dr Gabrielle Hosein, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IDGS), said, “The data show that one in three women working in the private sector have experienced physical or sexual partner violence at some point in their lifetime. These women experience higher levels of mental distress, lack of confidence, physical pain and inability to concentrate at work, affecting their ability to earn, lead and succeed.”
“The data also show that the majority do not seek services. However, these women go to work every day and therefore there is a role for the private sector in helping them feel safe and heal, end feelings of shame, break silences, and know that their workplaces are leading in establishing zero tolerance of violence against women, including by identifying and responding to perpetrators with clear workplace guidelines.”
The anti-gender based violence initiative is designed to address Gender-Based Violence through the execution of a three-phase programme.
Phase one deals with ‘How is Gender-Based Violence affecting your employees?’ conducted through surveys.
Phase two consist of workshops ‘Understanding Gender-Based Violence’ and how the organisation can develop a culture of zero-tolerance of gender-based violence.
And phase three deals with policy development, “Develop your Workplace Anti-Gender Based Violence Policy.”
AMCHAM T&T stated that companies participating in this initiative will benefit from gender-sensitive training that will discourage all forms of gender-based violence and abuse, address the issues of gender, vulnerability, and marginalization, recognize signs of abuse and offer assistance, and address claims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited (PPGPL) is the first company to participate in the initiative that is open to all companies and organisations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Interested participants seeking to have their Anti-Gender Based Violence Programme executed at their organisations should contact AMCHAM T&T at 295-4869.