Racism is deeply embedded within every sphere of society and the VAWG sector is not immune. The Anti-Racism Working Group, comprised of individuals from ending VAWG organisations, was formed last year to address racism within the structures, practices and behaviours of those supporting victims and survivors of male violence.
As organisations working to end VAWG, it is vital that we recognise the impact of the intersecting inequalities which leave Black and minority ethnic women more likely to experience violence and less able to access support, attention and justice. Without deep reflection and the proactive anti-racist work called for in the Charter, charities and services risk perpetuating harm to the very people we claim to support.
In addition, the Charter calls for commitment to overhaul of how we work together as a sector, so that Black and minoritised organisations are no longer co-opted, governed, or expected to assimilate with large, well-funded, white-led organisations, while meeting huge demand for specialist ‘by and for’ services and facing chronic underfunding.
This means challenging the unequal partnerships and power dynamics that systematically disadvantage Black and minoritised women’s organisations and Black and minoritised women working in the VAWG sector. The Charter calls for equality in representation and a true commitment to the principle ‘nothing about us, without us’.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“Racism is undeniably an issue that the charity sector needs to confront. Those of us working to end violence against women and girls need to see this as a fundamental part of that work and be active participants in challenging racism and the structural inequalities that systemically disadvantage Black and minoritised women’s organisations. The anti-racism charter for the VAWG sector is a brilliant tool for organisations to engage with around meaningful change.”
Baljit Banga, Executive Director of Imkaan, said:
“For Black and minoritised women racism is an everyday experience that has mostly been ignored by the generic VAWG sector. The recognition of racism as intersectional structural oppression and a form of state violence has been easily dismissed in policy and practice and race erasure – the institutional denial of racism – is far too often embraced by those who hold power. Black and minoritised women have long argued that there is no hierarchy of oppression and that racial oppression occurs alongside gender oppression and many other oppressions to which women are subjected.
The Anti-Racism Charter is a transformative document that provides the blueprint for addressing racism in the VAWG sector but it requires meaningful change at all levels of organisation. Substantial work is needed to implement the Anti-Racism Charter for those signing up to its promise. For those adopting the framework we require a shift from the performative to the transformative, towards racial equality and social justice where the often challenging conversations will need to be had. The Anti-Racism Charter is a step towards reparation Black and minoritised women seek for the VAWG sector. Violence in all forms that causes harm to women must be addressed without reservation, without hesitation and limitation. The time for meaningful social change is long past due.”
Over the next year, the Anti-Racism Working Group will be running a number of workshops and seminars about the Charter for the ending VAWG sector and Black and minoritised organisations and women working in the sector.