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International Development Committee to explore the impact of racism in the aid sector

At the Alliance, we know that our members are deeply concerned with unpicking and addressing inequality in the sector, which is at the foundation of our ongoing work to decolonise language and storytelling. That’s why we’re pleased to see that the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee is launching the first sub-inquiry under The philosophy and culture of aid umbrella inquiry, exploring racism in the aid sector. 

During the Committee’s recent inquiry on Sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector: next steps, members found that power dynamics relating to racism and sexism may have impeded efforts to implement effective measures to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. At the Committee’s first evidence session of its Philosophy and culture of aid inquiry last month, members heard that it is problematic for a sector working to eradicate poverty, ensure access to basic necessities and end gender-based violence not to reflect those it works with.  

As part of this inquiry, the Committee is seeking to explore how diversity and inclusion can be promoted in the aid sector, and is inviting evidence.   

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP said, “The aid sector is here to provide humanitarian and development assistance for diverse communities around the world. As we explore the philosophy and culture of aid, our Committee is keen to investigate whether the sector’s culture could be undermining trust within communities and hampering development impact. This first sub-inquiry on racism has the potential to challenge our own working practices and use of language as we explore how the aid sector can be more inclusive.”  

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following issues by midday on 30 April on the following questions: 

  • Structure of the aid sector
    • What are the historical processes that have led to countries and organisations from the global north dominating the international aid sector?
    • What are the practical implications of the concentration of funding and resources in donors and international aid organisations from the global north?   
  • Racism in the aid sector
    • Why do we need to have a discussion about racism in the aid sector?
    • What are the practical implications of racism in the aid sector? 
    • How can aid actors be actively anti-racist?
    • How does the language used by aid actors relate to discussions around racism and power dynamics?
    • What steps should the UK Government take to address racism in the aid sector? 
    • How could a systematic approach to tackling racism help to strengthen relations between aid delivery organisations and the communities where programmes are delivered?   
  • Diversity and inclusion 
    • How diverse is staffing within international aid organisations? Does this change at different levels of seniority?  
    • What actions have international aid organisations taken to promote diversity and inclusion and what impact have these had?
    • What actions do international aid organisations still need to take to promote diversity and inclusion?   
    • What actions should donors such as the FCDO take to promote diversity and inclusion in the organisations they fund?

If you want to speak on these issues or others more informally, our members have a great opportunity to speak with committee member Chris Law MP on Thursday 15 April at our informal roundtable with Chris Law (Westminster International Development Spokesperson for the SNP) and Alyn Smith MP (SNP Shadow Foreign Secretary).

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