Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Gender Ministry, UWI Open Campus partner to combat sexual harassment

Published:Monday | September 23, 2019 | 10:40 AM
Gender Minister Olivia Grange - File photo

The Ministry of Gender and The University of the West Indies Open Campus have agreed to collaborate in providing training and to engage in areas of research to address prevailing cultural stereotypes associated with sexual harassment.

“The partnership with the UWI Open Campus is designed to increase awareness on the provisions of the anti-sexual harassment legislation and promote a climate of dignity, respect and tolerance in our workplaces,” said Grange in a statement.

Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus  Luz Longsworth had offered support to Grange in the areas of training and research to combat the conduct, utterances and attitudes associated with sexual harassment.  

Longsworth indicated that The UWI Open Campus has long recognised “the general lack of knowledge, training and education when it comes to sexual harassment at the workplace.”  

She noted that sexual harassment at the workplace “can be enduring and persistent and is seen as a significant occupational health psychology problem which leads to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, drug and alcohol abuse.”  

Longsworth said research shows that organisational climate is a strong predictor of workplace sexual harassment and that in many cases, hierarchical power dynamics, particularly among males, are at the root of sexual harassment.

Grange reiterated the Government’s commitment to addressing this problem in a comprehensive manner, and pointed to the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Bill which is now before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.  

She said legislation was “critical in dealing with sexual harassment, but it was crucial that every workplace takes steps to prevent this very serious crime through effective training and the development of policy that focus on eliminating certain behaviours and practices that unconsciously give rise to sexual harassment in the first place.”

Longsworth, in commending Grange for her advocacy and commitment to this initiative, indicated that the partnership with the Ministry will now expand on a national level. 

She noted that earlier partnerships through the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute included a series of sexual harassment sensitisation training sessions in partnership with TPDCo, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the University Hospital of the West Indies, the University of Technology, Jamaica, and the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica.  

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