Former Member of Parliament Liz Thompson has called for affirmative action for women in the workplace, amid concerns that men outnumber their female counterparts at top positions.
Thompson made the remarks last night, during her lecture entitled ‘Nasty or nice? Women in politics, leadership and life’. It was held at the Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination, and organized by First Caribbean International Bank in collaboration with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies of the University of the West Indies.
“I think we have to do that in relation to the workplace, getting more women into the top ranks; we have to do it in relation to Parliament, and Cabinet. And boards as well.
“It has to be a conscious decision that we’re going to introduce some kind of affirmative action or quotas, and you have skilled women who can fill the positions so there’s no question of just taking up a person who is wearing a skirt and say ‘come girlfriend’, dragging them out of a beauty salon and say ‘you take this job here on the board’. She may come out of a beauty salon but she would have to fit the bill,” Thompson said.
The former Minister for the Environment stated that female-owned businesses in Europe and the United States have access to certain jobs and government contracts, as quotas have been established for such enterprises. She added that in Africa and India, there are also mechanisms to facilitate access to capital and special funds for women.
Thompson, the executive director-designate of the SUNY-UWI Centre for Leadership and Sustainable Development, also said there is a need to establish policies to facilitate a better work-life balance for working women.
“Women continue to have the responsibility of caring for the elderly, caring for children, and we have to have more flexible working systems, opportunities where you’re bringing children into common nurseries and spaces, where women don’t have to be leaving at three o’clock to run to pick up the children, get them to lessons or somewhere, go back to work, run back out again. So that is important.
“I don’t know about politics, I think we’re still going to have a challenge even with the numbers because the reality is that politics is a blood sport and men and women don’t want to be defeated,” she stated.
The lecture was held as part of activities organized by First Caribbean International Bank to observe International Women’s Day. (MCW)