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Jamaican Gov’t partners with UWI for Sexual Harassment research

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#KINGSTON, March 5, 2020 (JIS): The Government will be partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Open Campus, over the next three years, to provide training and research on sexual harassment in the workplace and related matters.

Specifically, the collaboration is between the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA), under the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute.

The partnership will see the Institute providing special training through seminars, lectures and workshops coordinated by the Bureau. Training will cover the areas of sexual harassment, workplace bullying, emotional intelligence, labour laws, grievance handling and good industrial relations practices.

 Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise this partnership during a ceremony at the UWI Regional Headquarters on February 28.

The emphasis will be on providing support to combat the stigma of sexual harassment through research and the areas of training identified. It is expected to contribute to an appreciation among public sector workers of the importance of promoting an environment free of sexual harassment, in which all categories of workers are treated with respect and dignity.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who participated in the signing, said the MOU has been entered into at an opportune time, in light of “the increasing incidents of violence and abuse of our women.”

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She noted that through the MoU, the intent is to explore the impact on productivity of sexual harassment and the implications for workplace competitiveness.

“We would also want to examine the link between sexual harassment and the society; the existing and potential costs in legal related terms; the cost associated with the re-orientation of victims back into the society; the loss of skilled workers; and the psychologically-related costs that are often associated with these abuses,” she said.

She pointed out that the Ministry’s collaboration with the UWI Open Campus will assist in defining the scope of the research agenda, “and to better prepare us for the challenges in combatting sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Ms. Grange said an important benefit from this collaboration is in the area of training, which will focus on prevention of sexual harassment.

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“In that regard, we must create a vision of a new Jamaica where respect, tolerance and dignity and a high self-esteem are seen as the norm for workplace behaviours, and that organisations take the time and make the effort to offer mentorship and specialised training for persons who have been socialised to show disrespect for women,” she said.

In her remarks, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UWI Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth, said through ongoing training, the Institute has been working to address the issue of sexual harassment.

“Over the last year or two, the Institute has been at the forefront of training and sensitisation in over 30 orgnisations in Jamaica and the region in both the public and private sectors and they have dealt with not only sexual harassment, but also workplace bullying, and in guiding policy development and implementation in the workforce,” she said.

Dr.  Longsworth argued that knowing what is happening in the workplace is important to ensuring the improvement of labour relations in Jamaica.

She noted that Jamaica’s “own culturally nuanced approach to gender interactions in the workplace needs to be explored. They need to be scrutinised and most importantly, they need to be researched in order to guide our policy development.”

“We know that there is a dearth of that type of research in the Caribbean which will guide policy and practice is some of our major industries,” she said.

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 She noted for instance, that research needs to be done on the local hospitality industry, pointing to research from the United Kingdom (UK) which revealed that nine out of every 10 workers in the sector have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

  Dr. Longsworth also pointed to the need to explore the situation of domestic workers as well as call centre employees. 

She said that sexual harassment is not only about human rights and social justice, but it makes good business sense for organisations to invest in eliminating sexual harassment, citing research in the United States (US) which has shown that the effects of sexual harassment on productivity and health, as well as the cost of litigation, can go up to US$22,000 per employee in the company that is affected.

JIS NEWS by ALECIA SMITH

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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