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  • Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is calling on all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to implement sexual harassment and disability policies, in a bid to foster a work environment that is free from unwelcomed sexual advances and prohibitions to physical mobility.
  • The Minister made the call while addressing the official launching ceremony of the Urban Development Corporation’s (UDC) sexual harassment and disability policies.
  • Senator Falconer said the Government is putting in place the necessary programmes and procedures “to eliminate such abuses and promote the full enjoyment of these rights.”

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is calling on all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to implement sexual harassment and disability policies, in a bid to foster a work environment that is free from unwelcomed sexual advances and prohibitions to physical mobility.

“It is important that all agencies within the Government, not only consider the health and safety of their employees a priority, but that they move with dispatch to implement similar policies,” Ms. Falconer said.

The Minister made the call while addressing the official launching ceremony of the Urban Development Corporation’s (UDC) sexual harassment and disability policies at the corporation’s headquarters in Kingston, on April 14.

Senator Falconer said the Government is putting in place the necessary programmes and procedures “to eliminate such abuses and promote the full enjoyment of these rights.”

Turning to the issue of sexual harassment, Ms. Falconer encouraged persons to report these cases, and “not to suffer in silence.”

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcomed and unwanted sexual conduct which is offensive and can be experienced by both males and females.

The Minister informed that the country’s National Policy for Gender Equality recommends mechanisms for persons to report and have redress for labour issues involving sexual harassment.

Senator Falconer also noted that drafting instructions were given to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel last year for the long awaited sexual harassment legislation.

“When that law is enacted, it will offer protection to all citizens and it will ensure that places of work and study as well as access to services and accommodation are free from sexual harassment,” she said.

The Minister added that the legislation will be accompanied by an islandwide public education programme to create awareness and to facilitate prevention education.

As it relates to persons with disabilities, Ms. Falconer said they face exceptional environmental and social difficulties in the workplace, and that women with disabilities are even more disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion on account of their gender and disability.

“Persons with disabilities have the skills, talents and abilities, and they can contribute to their own sustainable livelihoods and the economic development of our country,” the Minister emphasised.

She cited passage of the Disabilities Act in the House of Representatives last year, which offers greater legal protection to persons with disabilities and will ensure that all Jamaicans are provided with equal opportunities to achieve their full potential.

The Minister commended the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilites for the sterling work they are doing to cater to the approximately 27,000 persons registered with the Council.

Senator Falconer lauded the UDC for the development of the policies, noting that the Management of the corporation is committed and will take decisive steps to ensure the protection and safety of all its employees.

She argued that these steps are crucial as Jamaica is a signatory to several international and regional agreements on human rights, including:  the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women; the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and the Caribbean Joint Statement on Gender Equality and the Post 2015 and Small Island Developing States.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the UDC, Senator the Hon. K.D. Knight, said the   policies are very significant as they speak to sanctions which should be taken if the guidelines  are breached.

The UDC is one of the first institutions of Government to undertake full-scale implementation of Sexual Harassment and Disability Policies. These policies are conceptualized from the Corporation’s position on employee safety and satisfaction and are geared at ensuring a harmonious work environment, which promotes growth and productivity.