Protection from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse (PSEA) and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (SHW)
ICVA works with member organisations to strengthen the humanitarian sectors approach to the prevention and response of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (PSEAH) for staff and the communities they serve.
Key platform for ICVA members to engage on safeguarding issues is the PSEA working group.
If you are interested in joining this group please contact Alon.Plato@icvanetwork.org
Since the media disclosure of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) cases by humanitarian actors in February 2018, attempts across the sector to address the issue and increase protection against SEA have multiplied.
PSEA cuts across the issues of gender, protection, accountability, localisation, power dynamics, faith and culture, and the nexus.
ICVA and members organisations reaffirmed their accountability towards affected populations, partners, supporters and public at large at the 2018 ICVA General Assembly. The Commitment and Motion to Action on PSEA and Sexual Harassment also mandates the Secretariat to document and voice the PSEA work, challenges and good practices existing among members and identify recommendations to feed efforts at international, regional and national level.
ICVA recognises the need to ensure that safeguarding is incorporated into every aspect of an organisation’s process and operations, from the support of the Board and the Executive Director to the programmes and partnerships on the ground. This is reflected in ICVA’s policy on PSEA.
The framing of ICVA’s response on not just the technical but also the cultural, root causes and political dimensions contributes to solutions-orientated reflections. ICVA is a critical and constructive voice of the new polices and their impact on resourcing and capacity building of smaller organisations. Our two publications “The Long Run to Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse” which shares the experiences of ICVA members on PSEA, and our discussion paper on “Humanitarian Ombudsperson” also contribute to the debates.
This commitment and motion to action on protection from sexual exploitation, abuse (PSEA) and sexual harassment in the workplace (SHW), was adopted by the ICVA members at the 17th General Assembly on 21 March 2018 in Geneva.
Acts of sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA), including sexual harassment at work place, are punished by law. However, such acts continue to occur in all settings, including by peacekeeping, humanitarian and development actors. Aware of the risks, these actors are increasingly strengthening their internal systems and measures to protect against sexual abuse and exploitation (PSEA), first the population they are working in, but also at work place. But are the efforts going in the right direction? Are there areas where further investment is needed to address current challenge and to transform ‘the zero tolerance’ from a policy on paper to a reality for all, including the most vulnerable?
The current paper aims to contribute to such a reflection by sharing on the experiences of the members of ICVA.
Discussions around creating a Humanitarian Sector Ombudsperson’s office (HSO) are going on. The idea of creating an HSO with the power to handle SEA issues throughout the sector will have various implications for everyone in the industry, so it should be meticulously examined before moving forward. A wide consultation within our field will help determine whether or not this new development is necessary and what kind of impact it might make on us all. ICVA commissioned this discussion paper aiming at feeding this reflection among ICVA members.
ICVA has signed up to the “Disclosure of Misconduct Scheme”. This inter-agency scheme, led by the Steering Committee on Humanitarian Response (SCHR), establishes a minimum standard for humanitarian, development and other civil society organisations to share information as part of their recruitment process about people who have been found to have committed sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation during employment.
Documents related to this scheme can be found below. Contributing to this scheme is part of our commitment to prevent and address abuse in the humanitarian sector.
These documents are related to the Inter-Agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. The purpose of this scheme is to establish a minimum standard for humanitarian, development and other civil society organisations to share information as part of their recruitment process about people who have been found to have committed sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation during employment.
In February 2020, ICVA partnered with UNHCR to launch the Protection from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and sexual harassement community outreach and communication fund (PSEA outreach fund)
The Fund will provide rapid, targeted financial support to NGOs to develop and disseminate PSEA outreach and communications materials, to strengthen community awareness of PSEA issues and reporting channels. The materials will be available to all IASC members for further use or adaptation.
The Fund aims to support the critical work that Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) do every day to ensure that people we serve are fully aware that humanitarian assistance is never conditional on any transaction or exchange of any kind and to prevent situations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
The Fund also invests in community-led efforts to help ensure that victims/survivors know how and where to safely report SEA, which is vital to respond to these unacceptable abuses in a timely and survivor-centered manner. It is rooted in the recognition that local capacities and expertise, including affected communities themselves, are essential to effectively reinforce protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.
In 2020 19 NGOs were supported through the fund. See the report. Many of the grant applications feature innovative approaches to mitigate the specific risks and operational challenges posed by Covid-19. The projects are all firmly grounded in consultation with affected people, and strengthen community awareness.
ICVA and UNHCR work with a group of PSEA experts to review all the eligible applications, giving priority consideration to proposals that demonstrate consultation with affected people in the development of their proposals. The PSEA experts include Translators without Borders and the Communications with Disaster-affected Communities Network, as well as organizations that have pioneered work on safeguarding and community-based complaints mechanisms, such as UNICEF, Oxfam and IOM.
This Fund was established in February 2020 as a deliverable of the High Commissioner’s IASC Championship on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) and Sexual Harassment (September 2019 to December 2020). A joint initiative of UNHCR and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), the Fund aims to support the critical work of NGOs in preventing situations of sexual exploitation and abuse by ensuring all affected people know that humanitarian assistance is never conditional on transactions or exchanges of any kind.
In 2020 19 projects were supported.
ICVA Secretariat has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment. We believe all people have a right to live their lives free from sexual violence. We recognise that there are unequal power dynamics across and within the humanitarian sector and in relation to those we serve, and that we face an inherent risk of some employees, volunteers or consultants exploiting their position of power for personal gain.
ICVA Secretariat and its members will not tolerate its employees, volunteers, consultants, partners or any other representatives associated with the delivery of our work carrying out any form of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. Our commitment to reporting, investigating, and preventing misconducts is driven by our values and commitment to root out abuse.
ICVA Secretariat staff and associates have signed up to the ICVA organisational safeguarding policies
ICVA ensures accessible, safe and responsive mechanisms to receive and record complaints and reports.
A complaint/report form is available for reporting and communication on alleged misconduct.
All Complaints & Reports are duly and timely addressed, and safeguards are in place to ensure full respect for the rights of all those involved, especially alleged victims.
Any complaint against ICVA Staff & Associates is addressed in full confidentiality to ICVA Executive Director, Ignacio Packer (firstname.lastname@example.org). When concerns exist on how the allegations would be managed, the Complaint should be addressed to the ICVA Board HR Focal Point, Reiseal NI Cheilleachair (email@example.com).
The reporting system forms part of the commitments, to provide clear pathways and parameters for reporting and communicating information related to misconduct appropriately and responsibly.
This reporting form is for internal and external reporting and communication on alleged misconduct by ICVA Secretariat, staff and associates in the delivery of ICVA’s work.
This 2007 Handbook was the first of Building Safer Organisations’ (BSO) publications and contains training materials on receiving and investigating allegations of abuse and exploitation by humanitarian workers. A compilation of materials from the BSO Learning Programmes, it is an informal syllabus for workshop facilitators and a general reference on good practice for participants.
The Building Safer Organizations (BSO) project is an important collaborative effort by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to address the problem of SEA. The BSO project strengthens NGOs’ capacity to receive and investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse brought by persons of concern including refugees, displaced
persons and local host populations.
To achieve this, BSO, which is housed by the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) in Geneva, developed learning materials and field-based trainings. Following the pilot trainings, ICVA invited the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children to undertake an evaluation of the program, the results of which are contained in this report.
ICVA is a global network of non-governmental organisations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.
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