The Government of Barbados remains committed to addressing gender inequality in the island.
Minister of Labour, Senator Esther Byer-Suckoo, gave Barbadians this assurance this morning while addressing the ILO Subregional Gender Equality Workshop for Judges of the Caribbean at Hilton Barbados.
“In 2011 the Ministry of Labour and Social Security participated in a participatory gender audit which was conducted by the ILO and the OAS. This gender audit assessed the extent of gender mainstreaming as a strategy to advance gender equality in the policies, objectives, programmes and projects implemented by the ministry and its agencies and to identify best practices, identify gaps and formulate recommendations.
The ministry has already taken steps to address some of the recommendations arising from the audit, including the promotion of gender equality in the world of work.
“One area of good governance is the commitment of governments to periodically review their national legislative instruments and to abolish those statutes that discriminate against men and women. The Government is focusing on two areas, sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace.
“The new sexual harassment legislation will be gender neutral and it will ensure that both employers and employees will be responsible for the maintenance of a working environment which is free from harassment, discrimination and retaliation,” Byer-Suckoo added.
She disclosed that work is still being done by the Ministry of Labour on this piece of legislation and stressed that it was still the number one priority for the administration.
Conscious of the fact that in a depressed labour market women are usually exposed to sexual exploitation, Byer-Suckoo said: “Especially when I am aware that where jobs are scarce some employers may want to take advantage of the desperation and moreso the fear of job loss to offer a quid pro quo arrangement with their employees. Currently, we are looking to put in place the tribunal that will look at sexual harassment issues.” (NC)