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Giving Compass' Take:
• Francesca Rhodes, Oxfam’s Gender Policy Adviser on campaigns, policy and influencing, discusses the recent sexual exploitation crises in the sector, including within her organization, and seeks to find solutions through local action by transforming power dynamics.
• Rhodes advocates for more agency and leadership in a local context, rather than outsiders deciding to "empower women." Are organizations doing enough in this area, and how can Oxfam itself reform its practices that led to abuse of privilege in the first place?
• Here's more on how Oxfam plans to build back better after scandal.
The aid sector’s sexual exploitation and abuse crisis put into stark spotlight the unequal power dynamics between humanitarian actors and communities they work in, and the injustices this can cause. Discussions on what a humanitarian system, and Oxfam itself, would look like if it was actively trying to transform these power dynamics, have intensified.
In this context, Oxfam Canada conducted research on how a feminist approach would apply to the localization of humanitarian action. Localization aims to shift power and resources to local and national actors to lead and deliver humanitarian response.
Both feminism and localization are at their core about transforming the unequal power dynamics that are so deeply entrenched both in our advocacy targets and in our own sector and organization.
A feminist approach must be intersectional — meaning that it understands how other factors that cause discrimination such as race, class or disability reinforce power and privilege. It would support agency and leadership, rather than a top down process of outside actors "empowering women."
It is not just about what we do — e.g. focus on achieving gender equality and women’s rights, but also how we do it.
Read the full article about feminism and localism by Francesca Rhodes at Oxfam Blogs.