27 March 2018

#MeToo and the aid sector: where do we go from here?

On 22 March the Graduate Institute and IRIN News held an event exploring what the #MeToo moment means for the humanitarian sector, bringing together whistle-blower, investigator, NGO and donor perspectives, as well as Oxfam, the organisation whose internal investigation into sexual misconduct by workers in Haiti sparked intense media scrutiny.

“The blow to humanitarian legitimacy has been huge”, said Professor Elisabeth Prügl, Director of the Graduate Institute’s Gender Centre. “The humanitarian sector typically thinks of itself as occupying the moral high ground, but these revelations have shown that it thrives on the same patriarchal power relationships that structure private businesses from Wall Street to Hollywood, and the political arena.”

Fionna Smyth, Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam GB, said it was “impossible to overestimate the impact that this has had on Oxfam and its staff. We were hurt, angry, betrayed, and incredibly sorry that we had let down the people that we were sent to serve in Haiti. This has been really painful, but a very necessary wake-up call.” 

A video of the event, which was moderated by Heba Aly of IRIN News and featured speakers from Médecins Sans Frontières, Norwegian Refugee Council, ICRC, IFRC and others, is available to view below.