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Hanif Smythe assists his mother at the Education Standards and Assessment Unit.

Published 25th April 2008, 11:40am

Some of Cayman's luckier children got a taste of their parents' work environment when several organisations participated in the Women's Resource Centre (WRC) initiative, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (TODSTWD).

The day was part of the Honouring Women Month (HWM) activities, organised by the WRC under the theme Educate. Enlighten. Empower.

In accordance with that theme, the children's work day last month aimed to educate boys and girls on various career options and to empower them to pursue their choices independent of stereotypical gender boundaries. A further objective was to increase children's understanding of the work and home life overlap and the need to manage both aspects.

For participating organisations it was also an opportunity to display their care and interest regarding employees and their children.

WRC Director Tammy Ebanks Bishop, who also took her son to her office, explained that in today's working world, employees often face issues such as working late, leaving early to collect children from school, staying home with sick kids or providing care for aging parents or relatives. It is recognised that here and elsewhere, the burden of human care, is primarily assumed by females.

"With this event we wanted to encourage Cayman's daughters and sons to think critically about these issues and learn that developing a family-friendly work environment concerns employers and families. It should not be considered just a women's issue," Ms Ebanks Bishop said.

On its website, the WRC provided participating employers and employees with sample exercises and activities for the children that made them think about the future. Some possible activities were for the children to imagine what kind of career they would have, what their family would look like and how they would balance work and family life.

She added," We are excited about the increase of responses from organisations that are ready to invite children to the workplace. Compared with 2006, the first time we organised this initiative, this year the number of participating organisations nearly tripled."

The Education Standards and Assessment Unit (ESAU) was one such participant and ESAU Senior Officer Pachent Smythe was one of the parents who brought her son Hanif, aged 12, to her office.

Ms Smythe said," I believe it is important for my children to see where I work and what I do so that they can develop a deeper appreciation of my work, other people's jobs and the working world in general."

She added, "Children get to see that hard work, dedication, commitment, confidentiality and integrity are important factors in achieving success. They need to learn that nothing comes easy and that they should apply themselves from now, in school, get a solid education and be responsible so they can live productive lives."

Hanif commented, "I think that my mom's work, evaluating schools and teachers as they strive to help students to learn and achieve, is very interesting and important. And just as my mother helps schools to change, I too would consider a profession that allows me to help people to change." Asked about viewing jobs as gender specific, he said, "It doesn't matter, as long as males and females are competent and capable of what they are doing. So long as I'm comfortable, I wouldn't stop doing my job if females normally do the job. "Another organisation joining the TODSTWD initiative, Scotiabank, had 12 children visit its offices for the day. They were introduced to managers and employees, worked along with their parents and even attended meetings. Children commented that they enjoyed the day and had a new appreciation for their parents' work.

Scotiabank's Human Resources Manager Lovenia Ebanks explained their organisation's motivation: "This initiative allows parents to showcase their work place to their children so that they can appreciate the kinds of demands, skills and expectations of the modern workplace."

She added: "Scotiabank envisions that this initiative gives the children a glimpse into the world of work, which may impact their career choices in the future."

Pleased with the day's success, Ms Ebanks Bishop said, "We expect that this event will continue to grow each year and that it will help our girls and boys discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life. We also hope that they come to appreciate the wealth of career possibilities that can open up once we are free from gender barriers."

For more information about Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, contact Acting Programme Officer Miriam Foster on 949-0006 or via email at wrc.gov.ky.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day History and Benefits

History

  • Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in the United States began in 2003 as a national public education programme that evolved from the Ms. Foundation for Women's successful Take Our Daughters to Work Day in 1993.
  • The Women's Resource Centre organised the first Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in the Cayman Islands in March 2006.

Employee/Employer Benefits

  • This initiative sends a message to employees that they are valued and that their companies recognise the challenges faced by many of today's parents who balance work, family and community responsibilities.

Youth Benefits

  • It is an opportunity for youth to be exposed to careers without gender restrictions, to witness workplace requirements and better appreciate the difficulties parents and caregivers encounter daily.

Participating Organisations in Cayman in addition to WRC:

  • Cayman Hospice Care
  • Customs Department- Seaport- Port Authority
  • Department of Environmental Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Education Standards and Assessment Unit
  • Kirk Office Equipment
  • Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture
  • National Housing and Development Trust
  • National Pensions Office
  • Recreation Parks and Cemeteries Unit
  • Scotia Bank
  • Spin Radio
  • Vibe Radio
  • Water Authority