Sun | Feb 23, 2020

Dress codes sexist, unrealistic

Published:Tuesday | August 14, 2018 | 6:01 PM

In a country whose temperatures fluctuate between hot and hotter, it’s surprising that it was only on Friday, August 10, 2018, that Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the suspension of the ban on sleeveless clothes in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The entire issue of the sleeveless ban has been a hot topic for years, but appeared to be resurrected in November 2017 when Lisa Hanna made ‘the brave decision’ to wear a cap-sleeve dress to Parliament.
The reality is that there is no law or official government policy. Many MDAs have simply decided on their own whim that shoulders are inappropriate. In a country where our colonial scars are taking long to fade, our dress codes are restrictive and counterproductive.
Not only is our climate not considered when formulating these dress codes, but they continuously perpetuate gender inequality. Women are disproportionately affected, resulting in disruption of daily activities and productivity. Many of the stories shared on social media have been by women who have had to use ridiculous measures, such as covering shoulders with a scandal bag, to enter agencies that enforce a no-sleeveless policy. 
I commend the Government for listening to the public and look forward to seeing a permanent ban, along with the promised government dress code policy. This future policy should not only place value on our climate but play an active role in encouraging gender equality.