Women’s Aid responds to allegations of institutional racism in member organisation
13th July 2021
Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“Over the weekend, we became aware of allegations of institutional racism in one of our member organisations. We have nearly 170 member organisations in England and take our responsibilities to our membership body and national federation very seriously. We hold our ambition to be actively anti-racist at the heart of everything we do, and we stand in solidarity with every woman that has ever experienced racism.
As a membership organisation that has anti-racism as part of our Quality Standards and membership principles, any allegations that breach this is a serious matter for us. Racism affects and harms survivors, staff and organisations. We are committed to supporting all our members in our shared determination to be anti-racist, together with supporting our members to carry out their vital work supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
If we receive a complaint about a member or we have reason to believe that a member may have acted in conflict with their membership agreement or Quality Standards, we will investigate this using the appropriate procedure. We have approached Solace Women’s Aid and we will begin the process of fact-finding and gathering evidence as we want to understand what has happened, support as appropriate, and take action as necessary. Solace Women’s Aid has stated they welcome a full independent investigation. We want to assure the women who have come forward that we are taking these allegations extremely seriously.
Whilst these allegations came to our attention on Sunday, these issues across the sector are not new and have been repeatedly raised by Black and minoritised women in our sector for many years. In 2020 a VAWG sector Anti-Racism Working Group was formed to produce a charter for ending structural racism within our workplaces. Women’s Aid has been part of this work and is committed to implementing the standards and actions set out within the charter to ensure all Black and minoritised survivors and those women in our movement are treated equally and with respect.
Women’s Aid has pledged to challenge racism within our own organisation and in the wider domestic abuse sector. Since joining Women’s Aid in March, I have been looking at how we approach our work in this area, clarifying our values, sharpening our intent and understanding, and how we support and challenge our members to be anti-racist in all that they do. A key part of this is holding our own organisation to the same scrutiny and committing to fundamental change. As part of this commitment, we are establishing a new anti-racism structure to work towards change, new roles to bring focus to this work, as well as a full independent audit of our organisation.
We know that we, alongside other white-majority organisations in the wider VAWG movement, must recognise and respond to our failures to address racism and inequality in our own organisation, and must recognise the deep pain and trauma it causes. We all have work to do and we stand in solidarity with all women standing up against racism in our sector.”