Wed | Nov 25, 2020

CARICOM 38 | Time come ... Jamaican awardee urges more protection for domestic workers in region

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Pryce ... perhaps the greatest award I have ever been given is the simple opportunity to advocate for the thousands of voiceless women.

Jovan Johnson

Jamaican Shirley Pryce  last evening accepted CARICOM's top award for women and rushed to urge member states to follow Jamaica and Guyana and ratify an international convention on the protection of rights for domestic workers.

In 2011, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted Convention 189, which established the framework for the protection of rights of millions of workers, mostly women.

"I asked my prime minister and within three months he ratified it," Pryce told the leaders at the opening ceremony for the 38th regular meeting of heads of government at the Grenada Trade Centre in St George's. 

Pryce said she was embarrassed when asked how many CARICOM states have taken the step.

Pryce is now the 12th awardee and third Jamaican winner since the triennial award was established in 1983 to recognise and honour such women of distinction in the Caribbean. 

"This award is very much appreciated, but perhaps the greatest award I have ever been given is the simple opportunity to advocate for the thousands of voiceless women across the world fighting for their rights, for recognition, respect and overall decent work," Pryce said in her acceptance speech. 

READ: ‘Pryce-Less’ - Former Jamaican domestic worker is CARICOM Woman of the Year

Pryce is a key founder of domestic workers' unions in Jamaica, the Caribbean and globally, and has used the platforms to galvanise support for the adoption of the ILO convention.

​A week ago she told The Gleaner how she became 'militant' in Geneva to win 'respect' for domestic workers.

"I am not afraid to speak. I remember when I was in Geneva in 2011; I was dubbed the no-nonsense, hard-talking Jamaican activist, because I wasn't afraid to speak. When I went to Geneva, we blocked the roads there. We were not afraid."

Meanwhile, Pryce noted this evening that her 'fight' continues as based on ILO data, there are more than 100 million domestic workers in the world, who do not get benefits like maternity leave, sick leave health insurance and leave with pay as do other workers. 

"Although in some areas, there have been improvements, the one thing that remains the same domestic work is not recognised as real work. Even though some countries have taken the important step to introduce legislation, a lot more is needed in enforcement," she added. 

"Sweeping changes are a must. It cannot be the same old, same old. Time come," she had told The Gleaner hours ahead of receiving her award.