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UN body pushes for gender equality in Jamaican workplaces

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon
In this March 2016 Gleaner file photo, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) deputy resident representative Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune (right) is seen with Minister of Entertainment, Sport, Culture and Gender Affairs Olivia Grange at the launch of a UNDP publication at UWI, Mona.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is hoping Jamaica will become the first Caribbean nation with companies that gain certification under the Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme (GESCP).

Already launched in at 12 Latin American countries with at least 1,400 companies certified, the GESCP is a globally recognised programme that "allows private and public sector organisations to address gender gaps in their organisation", deputy resident representative, Elsie Laurence-Chounoune told Gleaner Business.

The programme "aims to address persisting gender gaps in the workplace by encouraging entities to create equitable conditions for both men and women and establishing environments where women's work and contributions are equally valued," said a UNDP media release.

Companies are awarded gold, silver or bronze level certification when they have met specific standards to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Along with the global recognition the certification creates, companies will also be in a better position to attract clients and investors who are like-minded, Chounoune reasoned.

At least five private sector companies and two public sector entities have already started discussions with the UNDP towards entering the programme - among them Scotia Group, Jamaica National, Digicel, Rubis, Wysinco and the Development Bank of Jamaica - though none have yet given commitment to start, Chounoune said.




"The target is to have at least 30 companies signed up by next March," Chounoune said, even as she noted the cultural barriers that must be overcome to effect the changes the programme hopes to establish.

The GESCP was launched in Kingston last week in partnership with the Bureau of Gender Affairs, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Gender equality is a policy initiative of the Jamaican Government though the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE). So far, 27 government ministries, departments and agencies have been granted the Gender Equality Certification Stamp.

The NPGE was approved by government in 2011.