Oxfam in the Philippines: “zero tolerance” towards harassment, abuse or exploitation

Oxfam, along with our partners, has been working in the Philippines for 30 years, or since 1988, doing long-term humanitarian, development, and advocacy work. We know the devastating reports that have emerged will have damaged trust – and we are working to rebuild it.

Oxfam treats allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation very seriously. We are committed to reinforcing a culture of “zero tolerance” towards harassment, abuse or exploitation. That is why, across the confederation, Oxfam has come up with a concrete set of steps called the Oxfam Action Plan to bring about the necessary changes to our policy, practice and culture to stamp out exploitation, abuse, and harassment from all parts of our confederation, protecting those we work with and ensuring justice for survivors of abuse.

In line with this, we are currently undertaking the following safeguarding measures to ensure that we will be able to continue delivering programs to communities who need them the most, and with whom we have been working with for many decades in the Philippines.

  • There will be an appointment of a new high-level independent commission of women’s rights leaders which will have our ‘open books’ to look into old cases and help us change our culture and practices. In line with this, Oxfam, including Oxfam in the Philippines, will be guided by whatever recommendations the Commission makes.

  • We reiterate our commitment to collaborate with all relevant authorities, including regulators, and government agencies in relation to all incidents of exploitation, abuse, and harassment.

  • We are increasing investment in safeguarding, including more gender training and support across the organization and its apartment, with our dedicated gender lead who works cross-functionally in programs and humanitarian response teams.

  • We are strengthening internal processes and will contribute to the new global database of accredited referees that Oxfam is setting-up so that no one will be able to provide an unauthorized reference from NGO to NGO. Oxfam in the Philippines is also strengthening our whistle-blowing processes so it is safe and easy for people to raise concerns and report abuse.

  • We will work to further reinforce a culture of zero tolerance towards harassment, abuse, or exploitation.

  • We are working with our peers across the sector to tackle physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including action to ensure offenders who have lost their job with one organization cannot move on to a role in another.

  • We are actively engaging with partners and allies, especially women’s rights organizations, and we will continue to put women’s rights and gender justice at the center of our work.

With these actions in place, we hope to push for lasting changes within Oxfam that will enable us to continue delivering programs to communities who need them the most, and with whom we have been working with for many decades in the Philippines.