Just over two years ago, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) joined the world in condemning the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers in the U.S., which sparked global protests and a subsequent global conversation on race and racism.
The public outcry from IPPF was loud and sincere. However, it soon became clear that IPPF itself is not free from discrimination, biased views and racism.
Staff began to rightfully question the perpetuation of racist and colonial tropes in our work, not only within the secretariat but across the Federation. They felt that IPPF's focus on equality, empowerment and ending discrimination must extend both to the workplace and beyond. An anti-racism report commissioned and delivered to us in 2021 also showed the cracks in our structures, with inequalities, power imbalances and racism spotlighted.
As a leading global human rights organization focused on equality, empowerment, ending discrimination, and poverty eradication, it is especially critical that we internally reflect social justice principles. Spurred on by global resistance and internal concerns, we realized that we needed to find new pathways of work to live up to our reputation. The global reality today, where all kinds of rights are threatened daily, has also fuelled our responses to ensure that we stand up and ask ourselves difficult questions.
We acknowledge and recognize that becoming an anti-racist organization is a constant learning curve. We, as IPPF, strongly oppose racism in all its forms and resolutely go for a cultural change that will shift the existing imbalances in power and process. In this regard, we accept our audit report's recommendations and have taken the first steps in ensuring that IPPF operates within a framework built on equity, diversity and inclusion.
IPPF recognizes the fundamental need to move with expediency to radically dismantle and eradicate racism in all its forms. We need to install a framework that affirms the universality and inalienability of human rights, recognizing that racism violates them. These are the values that we aspire to, values that afford all our members and staff dignity and belonging while holding IPPF accountable.
The IPPF is committed to becoming a truly inclusive and anti-racist organization, where diversity is embraced, and promises to:
- Monitor and revisit our leadership structure at the secretariat and make it better reflect diversity.
- Embark on rewriting outdated policies and consider how racism is dismantled, along with its interplay with intersectionalities.
- Make our hiring, promotion and remuneration processes fair and equitable for all.
- Better reflect and address how discrimination based on race intersects with gender and sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and caste in a geographically diverse global federation such as ours in the way we work.
- Continue investigating ourselves to become a more inclusive, intersectional organization.
- Include clear markers for accountability in line with the objectives and indicators from the new IPPF strategy.
- Come together to reckon with our shared colonial past and use it to create a more open, fearless, and honest dialogue where we can address the persistent colonial legacies in our systems.
Within the secretariat, we have already started implementing key recommendations from our report, including training with staff across all regions and sessions for IPPF leadership.
A call for action
This session seeks to build on this work and expand the focus to the Federation. It seeks to continue our discussion – where we look to the future and ask the question – what does a decolonized IPPF look like?
Task forces, training sessions, and forums will be convened to ensure that all our systems, structures and safeguards reflect the anti-racist stance we are adopting and to continue our work to protect and fight for the rights of marginalized populations globally.
To successfully achieve the radical change IPPF wants to make - to create a fully inclusive and respectful association that offers equal chances to all - IPPF needs you, its champions from the field that have been doing work on diversity, inclusiveness, equal chances and anti-racism for many years to support this process. We see this as a process in two tracks, where the secretariat's work is supported and strengthened by MA-driven initiatives.
We ask MAs to join us
- In bringing this work to a higher speed and level by sharing your best practices, methods and tools.
- By providing your advice on what we can do and how to inclusively and authentically create spaces that are free of racism.
- By helping us move from questioning our processes that uphold colonial, white supremacist and imperialist ideas to developing new approaches that are driven by those involved and that truly address their needs.
This is a walk together
We are upending attitudes and ways of working that have been with us for too long. Our aim is to birth an environment that holds no discrimination and an organization that isn’t afraid of change.
It's within our unlearning, learning and reflecting that we need to Come Together to advocate for change in our systems to act against oppression and injustices pervasive in our sexual and reproductive rights and services globally.