American baseball legend Yogi Berra is credited with the statement: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” It can be understood to mean hold on your judgement because there is still hope. That’s how I feel about the Government’s response to the request made 90 days ago for the implementation of a Sexual Harassment policy in the Ministries and State Enterprises.
While I live in hope, here is my reality. The government has responded in two ways. They have spent 3.5 million dollars to solidify the Chairmanship of their appointee at Angostura Ltd and made a song and dance about the publication of the Equal Opportunity Commission’s Guidelines on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Chairman Seebaran Suite must be commended for working hard to produce a framework for treating with Sexual Harassment in the workplace. On the other hand, I cannot commend the Minister of Labour who simply asked the private sector to take the initiative and implement the policy. The Minister and the Cabinet preside over numerous state enterprises and ministries, and could have implemented such a policy; this would have been an excellent opportunity to lead by example. Why did they miss it?
For the academics and theoreticians, International Women’s Day/Week/Month (IWD 2018) has been a resounding success because it brought together the young and the old in conscious dialogue and celebration in different spaces. For me, there is still a lot of work to be done so my celebration is muted. I dream of the day when women truly stand proud and confident that the system will recognize and protect them. There are two action items outstanding; firstly the enabling legislation and secondly the policy implementation.
I have learned over my lifetime that the trigger for action is almost always an injustice which is caused by not having an appropriate policy, and until those consequences of that injustice are apparent and felt strongly enough, nothing will change.
The curtain is now closed on international women’s day activities 2018 but it is not closed on the necessary activism and so I hope that all the participants in the IWD solidarity will continue to be part of every movement and if we are to #pressforprogress, implementation of the sexual harassment policy and legislation is the next step. However, the most important step is to allow for the transparent investigation of the Angostura case and that can only happen if the Chairman is removed. #Let’s do this!