ECA and NATUC join Spotlight Initiative to end workplace gender-based violence in Trinidad and Tobago

Partnership facilitated by ILO and UNFPA

News | 23 December 2020
Efforts to eliminate gender-based violence in Trinidad and Tobago workplaces received a major boost through a new collaboration between the Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA) and the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC).

Made possible under the European Union (EU)-funded Spotlight Initiative and facilitated by implementing agencies the ILO and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the partnership will advance a key project outcome to achieve equal access to justice, protection, citizen security and reinforced safety.

The joint efforts will apply a holistic bipartite approach to close the national policy gap on gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace, with a particular focus on small- and medium- businesses that operate in rural communities. Planned activities include developing and implementing an awareness campaign, capacity development opportunities, as well as a framework for zero-tolerance and complaints measures. Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies will serve as a training provider and consultant in achieving the expected outcomes of the collaboration.

“All partners involved in this launch are strongly committed to eradicating gender-based violence in the workplace. We have the opportunity to find synergies between the work that the ECA and NATUC will carry out so the impact may be greater. Both organizations have already made significant contributions to design the action plans. It is also an opportunity for us who work for UN agencies to learn from each other and find more ways to collaborate. Now we get to start implementation and this is an exciting time!” explained Virginia Rose-Losada, ILO Caribbean Specialist for Sustainable Enterprise Development and Job Creation, who is also the ILO focal point for the Spotlight Initiative in Trinidad and Tobago.
 
The partnership will allow the ECA and NATUC, with support from Cipriani College, to ensure the mutual strengthening of legal and protection systems that identify, address, prevent and put an end to gender-based violence in workplaces.
 
“Enough! Women and girls everywhere have a right to live free from violence everywhere, including at home, in public, online and yes, in the workplace.  One in three women and girls globally and in Trinidad and Tobago still experience violence at some point in their lives. We must prevent violence. And until we end it, we must provide everything women and girls need to survive and recover, from physical and mental health care to legal aid and support for regaining livelihoods. UNFPA is quite pleased to be working with the ILO’s gender-based violence disrupters NATUC and ECA to put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace and to provide resources within the workplace for survivors,” said Aurora Noguera-Ramkissoon, Liaison Officer, Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago Liaison Office, UNFPA.

The ECA will work with employers in target communities to:
  1. Create awareness by conducting gender-based violence training and sensitization sessions focused on family violence and its impact on human capital in the workplace;
  2. Support the prevention of gender-based violence (including sexual harassment) by identifying and changing organizational cultures that intentionally and unintentionally perpetuate gender-based violence and sexual harassment; and
  3. Ensure that workplaces are safe spaces by developing and implementing a model workplace policy on gender-based violence, which includes a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and a complaints mechanism that is trusted and accessible by all women and men at all levels of organizations.

“Gender-based violence is known to negatively impact productivity, attendance, punctuality and teamwork in any work environment. For this reason,  the ECA as an employer association, is committed to the education of business owners, managers, and supervisors as well as human resources and industrial relations practitioners to assist them in recognizing early warning signs, applying measures that are appropriate and consistent, and altering pervasive cultural norms,” said Stephanie Fingal, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the ECA. “The policy model we are developing, can be modified by organizations to allow for a consistently appropriate response to all cases of gender-based violence within the workplace, through the inclusion of provisions that will ensure proper support to victims and holding perpetrators accountable.”

Through the collaboration, NATUC will:
  1. Train Union Negotiation Teams to negotiate special measures for survivors of gender-based violence; and
  2. Implement mechanisms, awareness and risk assessment with respect to sexual harassment, workplace violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, and family violence experienced by employees.
“Education and knowledge rest at the heart of this campaign. NATUC will address the issue of gender-based violence the rural and community levels, aligning and building synergies with the ECA to advance a common agenda by creating a healthy and safe place for women and their children,” said Michael Annisette, General-Secretary of NATUC. “With the Cipriani College of Labour & Co-operative Studies, we have designed an awareness-raising campaign that seeks to train and educate young people. This will help to guarantee a sensitized and educated workforce that can change the cultural sub norms and behaviours through dialogue and policies that address the concerns of women and men in the workplace.”

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the EU and the UN to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. In Trinidad and Tobago, its overall goal is to reduce family violence and ensure integrated, quality and accessible services and robust prevention approaches.

More information is available at: https://www.tt.undp.org/content/trinidad_tobago/en/home/projects/Spotlight.html