Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima appeared before the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee, with Oxfam GB’s Executive Director Mark Goldring and Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson.
I was grateful today to have the chance with my Oxfam GB colleagues to assist the UK Parliament in publicly examining our failings in the protection of vulnerable women following our 2010 humanitarian response in Haiti. I thank the UK Select Committee for the fair and robust hearing that we received.
I pledge that Oxfam will do everything it can to contribute to the global movement to protect women and girls. We have offered our deepest apologies to the people of Haiti and are working with the Haitian government.
Last week I announced a new global plan of action to change our culture and improve our safeguarding practises, including establishing an independent commission, increasing investment and resources into safeguarding teams, and strengthening our confidential whistle-blowing mechanisms.
People have already begun to respond to these measures, with new reports of abuse and exploitation being brought to our attention in the past ten days. I’m grateful for this. If people have previously felt unable to report abuse or exploitation that they have seen or experienced, then I hope they too will come forward. We will listen and we will act.
Oxfam is rightly under close scrutiny by many people today around the world. We hope that our apologies – but far more importantly our deeds and the steps we are taking – will begin to restore people’s trust in us.
We are saddened that Oxfam’s great work around the world, including in Haiti where we have worked for 40 years, has been marred by the actions of a group of men who abused the power they held over vulnerable women, but also by our own failings at the time.
While we have tried to improve our safeguarding practices in recent years, we know that we have not acted far enough or fast enough.
I have two priorities today: first, to make sure we never make the same mistakes again. Second, that our work of saving lives around the world goes on.
Notes to Editors:
Oxfam’s Action Plan can be found here: https://www.oxfam.org/en/immediate-response-actions-sexual-misconduct