Friends of the Earth International’s commitment to preventing violence and sexual harassment in our federation.
We strive for a world without violence against women in all spheres of life – at work, in public and in private. Our struggle for system change, based on social, environmental and economic justice, must also be defined by gender justice. We want to live in a world where women and all people live free from violence, harassment or threats.
Violence therefore has no place in our Friends of the Earth federation. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that women’s and all people’s right to a life free of violence is respected. We commit to holding ourselves accountable at all levels of our federation, to our national member groups, to the communities we work alongside and to our allied organisations.
How do we understand violence?
Violence and the threat of violence are used as tools of control to maintain patriarchal and other power relations, with women suffering institutionalised, domestic, sexual and verbal/psychological violence and harassment when they step out of their naturalised roles. This is especially true for women of colour, black, indigenous, working class and migrant women, lesbian and bisexual women and trans/non-binary folks.
- Migrant and refugee women who face sexual harassment at the hands of their employers and and, should they report it, institutional violence and xenophobic threats at the hands of the police for being undocumented or so-called “illegal”.
- Black women or women of colour who are sexualised in society and considered to be “at the service” of men as a social group, including colleagues or superiors in the work place who are more likely to pressure them for sex in order to get a promotion or to keep their jobs.
- Women who are sexually abused “because” they were out in the street at night, or wearing “provocative” clothing, or to “correct” their lesbian/bisexual sexual orientation.
- Working class women who suffer increased levels of harassment and physical violence at the hands of the police and military as they have to leave their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic to earn money or buy food to feed their families.
- A dramatically increasing number of women who are suffering domestic violence and feminicide as directives to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic trap them and their children in unsafe homes alongside aggressors and perpetrators.
Our commitment to non-violence
We are struggling to end violence against women in all its forms; systemic violence that is reproduced in women’s bodies and perpetuated through the sexual division of labour.
We will not accept, tolerate or condone any form of violence, threat of violence or harassment against women or against anyone in the federation or in our societies. This includes all those who suffer from violence, the threat of violence and harassment due to their ethnicity, nationality, economic situation, sexual orientation, gender identity (trans or non-binary people) or special physical or mental health needs.
Our Friends of the Earth International Policy on Violence and Sexual harassment is a key institutional document and tool to support our member groups and regions to put this commitment into practice. It lays out minimum standards and general practices for the prevention, prohibition and deterring of violence and sexual harassment. It is grounded on five fundamental principles that guide its implementation:
- Zero tolerance to violence;
- Survivor centred;
- Confidentiality and protection;
- Being time-bound, transparent and effective.
We believe the best way to respond to violence and sexual harassment is to prevent it from happening in the first place, which is why the Policy uses the prevention of violence as a guiding principle and essential to achieving gender justice and dismantling patriarchy and power relations in the federation. Through political formation, training, the creation of safe spaces, and institutional procedures and practice, this Policy supports us as we actively work towards:
- A working and activist environment where violence and harassment are not tolerated or considered normal or natural;
- Challenging power relations and promoting equality and justice.
Should violence, the threat of violence or sexual harassment occur in our federation, we will respond to accusations with seriousness and respect, based on the principles outlined above and on the basis of the needs and wishes of the survivor. A step by step procedure will be followed to ensure that these principles are upheld and that decisions are made in accordance with our commitment to gender justice and dismantling patriarchy.
Resources for Friends of the Earth member groups or allied organisations
Download a manual to support the implementation of the policy in your organisation:
Download a poster to display your commitment to non-violence in your workplace:
View the original article on the Friends of the Earth International website here.