Our Actions Towards Change: Fostering Anti-Oppression, Solidarity and Empowerment

On our 20th anniversary we, as an organisation, are reflecting on our past. We are looking back at how we have failed, learned and grown over the years as well as what our future holds. 

As we look forward, there are important truths we must acknowledge about the system we belong to and work within: 

One – Racism is intrinsic to colonialism and as members of the international development community, we are not free of this legacy. To grow, we need to constantly explore and understand how racist and colonial attitudes impact our work and our relationships. 

Two – Gender inequality and prejudice against women are common occurrences in all societies and that the power dynamics inherent to the international development sector exacerbates the risks of abuse of power. To work well and safely, we must consistently prevent, examine, detect and respond. 

Like other organisations working in international development, we need to address these harmful attitudes to develop a model for international co-operation and well-being based on anti-oppression, international solidarity, and empowerment. 

Today we look on with humility and admiration at the leadership in the Black Community and activists around the world in the fight against oppression, systemic racism and white supremacy. The movement championed by #BlackLivesMatter brings about hope for the liberation of all. We stand in solidarity with this fight – not only through words, but through action. We look to ourselves and what we can do in our own lives and in our work. 

Here are the actions EWB is taking: 

  1. We have organized a mandatory anti-oppression training on July 14, 2020 for all volunteer-leaders and employees across EWB.

  2. Anti-oppression training will also become an integral part of our on-boarding process for all EWB employees, volunteer-leaders, as well as the Board of Directors.

  3. We will continue to track key metrics within EWB to bring to light racial and gender biases wherever they may be in the organisation, while establishing new metrics where they are lacking; actions taken will be reported to the Board on a quarterly basis.

  4. We will continue to support the creation of relevant caucuses at key events – such as EWB’s Annual Conference – to ensure that groups or individuals in need have full access to space and support. 

We recognize that achieving sustainable systemic change within our organisation is a complex process. And while we are proud of the steps we have taken in the past, we realize that growth and improvement is a continuum – we are never done improving. As we face our own shortcomings and explore new opportunities for change, we will continue to share our plans and actionable strategies with our network. Thank you. 

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