Agenda item 2. Update on the Independent Expert Panel on prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at UNAIDS Secretariat
Delivered by Marsha Martin, NGO North America
Thank you Danny and all the members of the Bureau for your diligence in following though on the Independent Expert Panel.
Thank you Gunilla for you work and commitment to addressing these important issues.
Thank you to you Lina and staff association for you stewardship of staff concerns.
Thank you to all of you for committing to improve communication within and outside of UNAIDS on the work of the panel and implementation of this very important behavior and cultural change inside UNAIDS.
It is clear from the reports today that the combined intentions are not and will not be “business as usual at UNAIDS” and we welcome that
I would like to share just a few brief highlights from our experiences on the NGO Delegation.
Earlier this year, the NGO Delegation, as representatives of civil society, began a series of consultations with our constituencies to listen to their concerns and solicit input about best practices in response to handling the issue of sexual harassment at UNAIDS. Key among the concerns were: the need to provide support to individuals who report and have reported unethical workplace behavior and incidents; the need for ongoing education and training on ethical and appropriate workplace standards at UNAIDS;and the lack of a clear communication strategy within and outside of UNAIDS. Oh and let me not forget that there is unanimous support for radically reducing the time it takes to process incidents and adjudicating cases.
The NGO Delegation has recently developed and administered a survey to solicit best practices from within civil society on how to best respond to sexual harassment issues, on what a good workplace program looks like and what is known about how UNAIDS addresses these and related issues. Once we examine the responses, we will share the results with you.
Most recently on behalf of the NGO Delegation, I participated in the consultation with the ATHENA network and many UNAIDS staff from the field and headquarters. The meeting was another important opportunity for all of us together to learn and for others of us to be reminded about how sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse of power and unethical workplace conduct are important issues for women living with HIV and the trauma of such behavior is long lasting. We cannot let these issues go unaddressed. We, in the NGO Delegation are interested in examining these issues in the context of how we improve the HIV service delivery models to be more inclusive of the needs of all persons who have experienced violence, assault and other forms of sexual abuse.
Taken together, these outreach and consultation meetings have provided us with clear instructions for how we can come together and create safe spaces to explore tough and very important issues. If we are to come to the end of AIDS, we cannot stop taking on tough issues, taking the time to listen to and learn from each other in a way that demonstrates respect for honest processes, that are based on mutual trust and respect for diversity of experiences. We have to live the change we want to see. It’s time.
The #UNAIDSWeNeed must have a leadership that is not afraid of taking tough steps to make UNAIDS a safe and enabling workplace free of any abuse and harassment.