Sex abuse claims expose a culture of large NGOs wrapped in self-delusion


International charities no longer meet the need for accountable action


There seems to be no let-up in the tsunami of sexual misconduct allegations in the international development sector, with the resignation of Unicef deputy executive director, Justin Forsyth, and a new call by Save the Children staff for its chair to resign.

I confess to having had my own experiences of gender-based bullying behaviour in an international NGO, with comments on the presence of my breasts in an all-male management meeting, or being told things such as, “I put a woman on my management committee, and see the trouble I get.” There are some great people in the sector, but the leaders are not always among them.

If the #MeToo moment proves anything, it is that the large NGO model has wrapped itself in a shroud of delusion. Any changes forthcoming – on safeguarding or a long-overdue passporting system for humanitarian workers – though important, will not be enough.

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