Oxfam America joined InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in every developing country in the world, in announcing a pledge signed by 116 members to improve our efforts to prevent sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment by and of NGO staff.
The pledge stems from the work of leaders within InterAction’s member organizations since December 2017, to address sexual abuse and exploitation within the international NGO community. While many international nonprofits began work on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation nearly a decade ago, changing cultural conversations sparked the need for more robust action. The pledge represents a public commitment to practices and policies that will not only protect the staff of the participating organizations, but also the communities they serve.
“This pledge is an essential first step for the international development community to come together and agree on fundamental standards to address and create lasting solutions to problems of sexual abuse and exploitation,” said Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. “There is much more to be done, but now is the time for collective action and I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow leaders to move our sector in the right direction.”
“We recognize the long-term effects that sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment have on individuals and work cultures, and this pledge sets out a series of promises from NGOs leaders. We commit to strengthening the implementation of the policies we have already, and to work together to find common solutions to the challenges that remain, such as preventing perpetrators from re-employment within our community,” said InterAction President Lindsay Coates, who also serves as a co-champion on Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Aid Workers for the UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
In addition to urging action to establish work environments free from sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment by and of aid workers, the pledge calls for establishing a reporting culture within InterAction organizations that supports confidential reporting of all allegations of misconduct, with regular updates to the CEOs. The full pledge can be found on the InterAction website.