Attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim wants to see more women standing up for their rights and speaking out against gender discrimination by challenging the court system.
He made the comments during his opening statements at a panel discussion today, the final day of the 17th annual conference of the Barbados Association of Office Professionals (BAOP). The two-day event was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“I feel that we have not challenged our court system enough in terms of the rights of women. I think there is a big future for it and I long for the time when our recruitment processes [and] our hiring and firing processes are informed by the fact that women acknowledge that they have certain rights, and the most fundamental which is to not be discriminated against on the basis of this, on their gender,” said Pilgrim.
“So I think it is important that we keep analyzing that and maybe pushing the envelop in terms of that because my experience is that, generally speaking, people tend to accept their lot in terms of employment and as that begins to change, and I see some changes, I think it is important that . . . people of all genders be very much aware of the possibility that they are being discriminated against because of gender, and that their rights are not being infringed in any way,” he added.
The topic for the discussion was Equal Opportunities In The Workplace.
Saying he knew of a situation where a male personal assistant faced discrimination in a particular profession, Pilgrim said: “The legal framework in Barbados has not specifically geared itself, in my view, to protecting the rights of professionals from this discrimination in the workplace and it may be that that is the next step and we need to be ready for that”.
He called for better national policies to be implemented while urging the organization of mostly women to try to have “a certain amount of influence” on those policies.
Giving the example of a country in Africa that insisted that more than half of the government workers were women, Pilgrim said: “Those types of things are very important in the context of a relatively young democracy like ours that we really need to push these things”.
Meanwhile, lecturer in the institute of gender and development studies at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Hamilah DeShong called for stronger polices on the issue of gender equality.
DeShong said while Barbados and other Caribbean islands have ratified a number of conventions relating to equality, she was not sure how aware leaders were of what they had signed on to closer monitoring of cultural shifts was.