LINKAGE Q1 (2021) - Choose To Challenge
By AMCHAM T&T Staff Writer
Violence against women and girls is said to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations that happen around the world. Its prevalence has resulted in the UN Secretary-General António Guterres describing it in 2018 as a “global pandemic” and “a mark of shame on all our societies.”
Globally, it is estimated that 736 million women have either been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their life. Almost one in three women have been the victim of some form of gender-based violence (GBV). And this figure doesn't even take into account the number of women who face sexual harassment both in the workplace and on the streets.
When we hear these kinds of figures it is vexing, but the effects of such abuses on women and girls can be even more alarming. On an individual level, GBV survivors experience a host of psychological, behavioural and physical trauma, with psychosocial or medial support being often inaccessible. Meanwhile, loss of tax revenue, lower earnings, diverted resources, and decreased productivity can be attributed to the economic impact of GBV.
For working women, experiencing GBV can interfere with their full and equal participation in the workforce. Victims usually suffer both physically and mentally due to increasing levels of stress, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, motivation and ultimately job loss.
When companies turned a blind eye or flat-out refuse to acknowledge proper protocols and policies to combat GBV in the workplace, the gender pay gap widens and affects women’s opportunities for advancement and career progression. This ultimately has an impact on business productivity and reputation. So, the evidence is there to prove that this is not an issue meant to remain in the privacy of the bedrooms but needs to be publicly addressed inside the boardrooms of every corporation and company.
At AMCHAM T&T, it’s important that we practise what we preach. Saying that we want to empower women doesn't only mean advancing their opportunities for career progression, but it requires making sure women and girls are safe and protected wherever they are and at whatever stage in their life they may be at. This happened to be the major reason why AMCHAM T&T, in collaboration with The UWI Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV), launched an Anti Gender-Based Violence Initiative for private sector entities in 2020.
The purpose of this initiative is meant to prevent all forms of GBV and abuse in the workplace and to help companies develop the appropriate workplace policies. Why should this be important to companies? Perhaps AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie said it best: “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.”
The AMCHAM T&T CEO said the training would help companies create resources that will offer more support for victims and identify means to possibly hold more perpetrators accountable. The data collected from the initiative will also assist AMCHAM T&T to work with companies and our partners at IGDS and CADV to explore and hopefully develop initiatives to protect victims of intimate partner violence more effectively.
AMCHAM T&T - CEO
“Even as we launch this initiative, we are painfully aware that it is the perpetrators who need to be stopped, rather than the victims needing to be soothed. That is why we are extremely pleased to be working with two organisations that are on the frontlines combatting this issue. Together, we hope to be able to do our small part to build the required system to identify and ultimately reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence (commonly referred to as domestic violence),” Tewarie said.
Speaking to the importance of the Initiative, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, head of the IDGS, said: "The data show that 1 in 3 women working in the private sector has 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
Dr Gabrielle Hosein
head of IGDS, UWI
that their workplaces are leading in establishing zero tolerance of violence against women, including by identifying and responding to perpetrators with clear workplace guidelines. In showing such leadership, AMCHAM T&T is continuing to collaborate with the women's movement and civil society to transform the realities of violence in women's lives. We aim to keep expanding our partnership, learning from each other, and making whatever difference we can, together.”
The Anti Gender-Based Violence Initiative is designed to address Gender-Based Violence through the execution of a three-phase programme:
Survey - How is Gender-Based Violence affecting your employees?
Workshop - Understanding Gender-Based Violence and how your organisation can develop a culture of zero-tolerance of Gender-Based Violence. This workshop is tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.
Policy Development - Develop your Workplace Anti Gender-Based Violence Policy.
Companies participating in this initiative will benefit from gender-sensitive training that will discourage all forms of GBV and abuse, address the issues of gender, vulnerability, and marginalisation, recognise signs of abuse and offer assistance, and address claims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Anti Gender-Based Violence Initiative 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.
We ask that all companies sign up for this initiative and start implementing workplace policies on GBV that will ultimately have a positive impact on their organisations, so that 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.
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