President's Note - September 2018

Yolande Agard-Simmons

AFETT President

2018/2019

Dear Members,

 

For the month of August, we addressed the hard issues of Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment. At our Membership Meeting on August 16th - the first in our Tea & Conversation Series, we shared that this issue of Domestic Violence affects all of us and is not prohibited by race, gender nor financial status. A clarion call was made to our members to consider the systems and procedures in place and continue to work with the legislators and the system enforcers to ensure the protection of all victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

 

Then on September 5th, we co-hosted a Breakfast Meeting with the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce to address the ‘Draft Sexual Harassment Policy’, a well-crafted document that provides great insight into engaging employers to create a harmonious, dynamic and equitable industrial relations climate. At the meeting, it was shared that if it is to be an effective Policy, it must focus on prevention and remedial action.

The month of September promises to be another exciting one – with our Membership Meeting addressing the Essentials in the Toolkit of an Entrepreneur, and hosting our biggest fundraising event - Suit Me Up, on Saturday 29th September. We urge you to volunteer to assist; the more hands we have the lighter the load. Drop Adanna Fraser, Fund Raising Director a line at fundraising.afett@gmail.com. She will welcome your support. We have some exciting stuff planned for that day including a Couch Conversation segment with Hema Ramkissoon, CNC3 Television Host.

We have shared the confirmed Calendar of Events up until the month of December. We hope that in sharing this you will mark your calendars to join us at these events, which were developed with you in mind. For those of you with businesses, I remind you that at each Membership Meeting you now have an opportunity to showcase your wares or services at no cost; so reach out to Sherleen Young-Griffith, your Programmes Director, at afettprogrammes@gmail.com.

 

For our Social Outreach activities, we have work planned to roll out in 2019 in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts …so stay tuned for more details on this. In the meantime, if you are interested in serving as a mentor, please let Solange Richardson, Social Outreach Director know, by emailing her at afettsocialoutreach@gmail.com.

 

Our Ask AFETT weekly newspaper column is going strong; if you are interested in writing for the Column, please tell Jeane Warner, Research & Public Advocacy Director, of your subject matter expertise so she can match you with the topics being prepared by the RPA Committee. Email admin.afett@gmail.com.

 

As a Board, we are currently actively working on securing funding which will allow us to expand and further enhance our programmes.

 

Yours in service,

 

Yolande Agard-Simmons

President

_____________________________________________________________________________

For those of you who missed it:

 

Address by Yolande Agard-Simmons, President of AFETT at the Breakfast Meeting jointly hosted by AFETT & T & T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, titled ‘Join the Conversation on the Draft Sexual Harassment Policy’ at the T & T Chamber Offices, Westmoorings on Wednesday 5th September, 2018.

 

  • Ms. Lara Quentrall-Thomas, President, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industry and Member – Employment & Labour Relations Committee, T & T Chamber of Industry and Commerce

  • Ms. Catherine Ramnarine, Attorney-at-Law and Partner at M. Hamel-Smith and Company

  • Mr. Kevin Baldeosingh, Author /Humanist

  • Ms. Christina Bahadoor-Hosein, Vice-Chairman, Employment & Labour Relations Committee, T & T Chamber of Industry and Commerce

  • Ms. Sabina Gomez, Industrial Relations Specialist, Ministry of Labour, Small & Micro Enterprise Development

  • Specially invited guests

  • Members of the media

  • Ladies and gentlemen

 

A pleasant good morning to you all!

 

At the very core of our Association’s agenda is the promotion and advocacy of Women’s Rights, Human Rights, Social Change, and Gender Equality and Parity. This is why it is our firm belief that we would be remiss if we did not join the national discussion on draft sexual harassment policy. And more so, it is our privilege to partner with the Chamber on this Meeting to host all of you this morning.

 

We, at AFETT, are of the view that sexual harassment in the workplace is everyone’s business. Simply because it has attending societal, environmental, economic, health and safety consequences.

 

Having reviewed the Draft Policy, we find that while the document is well crafted and provides great insight into engaging employers to create a harmonious, dynamic and equitable industrial relations climate, we believe that there is some room for further development to ensure the effective prevention of sexual harassment and increased productivity.

 

Most specifically, we have found that Sexual Harassment is an issue that has direct psychological and emotional effects on witnesses and they, themselves, can be victims of acts of sexual harassment not directly perpetrated upon themselves. As such, a Policy that considers these effects and creates avenues for addressing the effects of sexual harassment on witnesses to the act would ensure the holistic protection of all persons affected by the issue.

 

Furthermore, with the presumption of innocence of all persons accused of perpetrating acts of sexual harassment, we believe that perhaps the policy can include measures to avoid abuse of the policy so as to prevent innocent persons from being persecuted unwarrantedly.

 

That said, there should be avenues for penalties for persons making false allegations and for those persons who use the Policy maliciously. This is especially as we believe that there is such an issue as reverse Sexual Harassment where persons can use allegations of such an act as instruments of manipulation.

 

Those are just our initial thoughts and it is certainly with open minds that we anticipate the robust discussions that will undoubtedly be had during this morning’s Session.

 

We commit to continue to work with the key stakeholders in the development and finalization of the National Policy on Sexual Harassment of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

I thank you.

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