The Government continues work to ensure gender equality through the launch of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Equality Seal certification programme, which aims to address gaps in the workplace and create equitable conditions for both men and women.

The official launch of the programme took place on December 5 at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

Local implementation of the programme will see the internal operations of private and public bodies being reviewed, revised and strengthened, with the aim of earning the Gender Equality Seal.

Enterprises awarded the internationally recognised gold, silver or bronze level seal are those that have met specific standards to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Among the anticipated outcomes from the programme are increased employee productivity and profitability as well as positive brand image.

Six local companies are the first to participate in the programme, including RUBiS Energy Jamaica Limited, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Island Grill, Facey Commodity Company Limited and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC).

Addressing the launch, Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, lauded the initiative, which she said promotes non-discriminatory practices in the workplace that are crucial in building a stronger economy.

“Jamaica is positioned to lead the way in spearheading this vital tool, as we are the first English-speaking country in the Caribbean to pilot the programme. The Government has made tremendous strides in the fight against gender inequality. This is reflected in the country’s national policies, programmes and plans of action,” she said.

Among the programmes to combat gender inequality is the National Policy for Gender Equality, which seeks to address inequality and gender-based discrimination to create a gender-harmonious society.

Another initiative is the recently approved National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence, which is a comprehensive framework to eliminate violence in the society.

The Minister also noted that the Sexual Harassment Bill is to be sent to Cabinet soon. A tribunal is also to be established to hear cases. This is to be supported by the Attorney General’s Department (AGD).

Meanwhile, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Bruno Pouezat, commended the Government for its tireless advocacy for gender equality.

“Jamaica has set a stellar example in seeking to establish men and women on an equal footing, and this is worthy of emulation abroad. I truly believe that the Government’s policy and legislative initiatives, and now the introduction of this proven global standard for workplace gender equality, can and will make a difference in Jamaica,” he said.

Pointing to a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) which reports that Jamaica enjoys the distinction of having the highest proportion of women managers globally of 59.3 per cent, the UNDP representative urged more entities to participate in the initiative to address the lingering inequalities that persist.

He also cited 2016 data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) that show that although women account for 50.5 per cent of the population, they are under-represented in public and private decision-making with 13 per cent of parliamentary positions being held by women.

Jamaica signed on to the programme following a successful run in Latin America, where over 1,400 enterprises in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Columbia and Mexico have reported positive impact from the initiative.

The programme is being implemented by the UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry’s Bureau of Gender Affaires.