You may know that Gender & Development is owned and funded entirely by Oxfam, on behalf of the whole development and humanitarian sector. In our 25 years of publication, the two entities have proudly kept separate brands and identities, and the journal is editorially and intellectually independent. However, the fact remains the journal is an Oxfam publication.
I am therefore writing this to express my dismay over what has come to light over the last few days at Oxfam, which many of you will be aware of, as it has had international coverage.
I, and my gender justice colleagues in Oxfam, want to say how devastated we are, as feminists working for Oxfam to support and further women’s rights, for the failings of the organisation and the resulting pain that has been caused to so many, and in particular the women involved in these cases. I am deeply ashamed and regret the effect on our partners and allies, both in the sector and more broadly.
Oxfam has committed itself to supporting gender justice and women’s rights over 30 years and the journal – as I said – is now 25 and the longest running gender justice project in the organisation. Now as when I joined the organisation 24 years ago, there is a strong group of people working for gender justice. However, the organisation has failed to protect the values and principles that we hold in the way that it has handled these incidents. For that we feel huge sadness and disappointment.
We also feel deeply shocked that such abuses went on in Oxfam, which stands for human rights and social justice. We know that violence against women and girls is not just a matter of few isolated incidents, but a human rights violation, and a systemic acting out of unequal power relations. But we had hoped that when and if such things happened in Oxfam, the organisation’s response would not fall short as it has.
What matters for us now is that Oxfam as an organisation is able to combat abuse and violence, inside and outside the organisation, and bring about real change that consistently takes account of gender and power.
As Editor of the journal and a staff member of Oxfam, I appreciate greatly the messages of support and solidarity from feminist allies. In Oxfam, we know we need to listen to the voices of our feminist sisters outside of the organisation, no matter how uncomfortable it might feel at times like these.
I hope that Gender & Development can be part of that force for change to hold all organisations and institutions to account, so that patriarchy and injustice continue to be challenged and ultimately ended.