Working group launches charter to combat racism in the violence against women sector

A group of individuals working in the violence against women and girls sector has launched a charter to combat racism and white supremacy in their cause area. 

The Anti-Racism in VAWG Working Group, which was formed last year, says it hopes the charter, published this weekend, will support those working in the VAWG to take concrete action towards racial justice and equality.

The charter says: “There is a white supremacist working culture within the VAWG sector, which bars organisations from being truly inclusive and democratic in decision-making.”

To combat this, it calls for proactive anti-racist work, equality of representation and a change in the approach to funding to ensure organisations led by black and minoritised people are not facing additional barriers.

It also calls for a commitment to overhaul how the sector works “so that Black and minoritised organisations are no longer co-opted, governed, or expected to assimilate with large, well-funded, white-led organisations, while meeting huge demand for specialist ‘by and for’ services and facing chronic underfunding”, according to a statement from the working group. 

The group said it hoped the charter would be a living document, which the sector would commit to, expand and develop.

The working group plans to hold a number of workshops and seminars focusing on the charter for those working in the sector.

Baljit Banga, executive director of Imkaan, the umbrella body for anti-VAWG organisations working with black and minoritised women, said: “For black and minoritised women racism is an everyday experience that has mostly been ignored by the generic VAWG sector.”

“The recognition of racism as intersectional structural oppression and a form of state violence has been easily dismissed in policy and practice and race erasure – the institutional denial of racism – is far too often embraced by those who hold power.”

She went on to say: “The Anti-Racism Charter is a transformative document that provides the blueprint for addressing racism in the VAWG sector but it requires meaningful change at all levels of organisation.”

But, she added, substantial work would be needed to implement the charter for those signing up to it.

“For those adopting the framework we require a shift from the performative to the transformative, towards racial equality and social justice where the often challenging conversations will need to be had,” she said. 

“The Anti-Racism Charter is a step towards reparation black and minoritised women seek for the VAWG sector. 

“Violence in all forms that causes harm to women must be addressed without reservation, without hesitation and limitation. The time for meaningful social change is long past due.”

Andrea Simon,who is director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition and a member of the group, said: “Racism is undeniably an issue that the charity sector needs to confront. 

“Those of us working to end violence against women and girls need to see this as a fundamental part of that work and be active participants in challenging racism and the structural inequalities that systemically disadvantage black and minoritised women’s organisations.”

She said she believed the charter was a brilliant tool for organisations to engage with to create meaningful change.

The charter is available on the Anti-Racism in the VAWG Sector Working Group website.

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