2. CARE’s policy

CARE expressly prohibits and will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment, exploitation or abuse. The CARE International Policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and Child Protection (2017; see Annexes 33.2a-e = policy in different languages) outlines definitions; principles; prohibited behaviours; and individual responsibility to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

CARE International Members have policies that spell out their commitment to the prevention and response to sexual harassment and exploitation in the workplace. As an example, CARE USA’s Human resources manual defines staff code of conduct on a number of important areas including a specific policy on discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment, and a separate policy to promote accountability of staff towards programme participant communities regarding harassment and exploitation (Annex 33.3). Every CARE USA employee is required to sign and abide by it. Similar policies have been adopted by CARE Canada, CARE Australia (Annex 33.4), CARE Norway and other members.

Most CARE members ask staff their staff, including staff hired or deputed to work in emergency programmes, to sign to a code of conduct aligned with the policy. Violation of this code shall be treated as serious misconduct and shall lead to strict appropriate disciplinary measures as per the established procedures.

Guidelines for adapting and implementing policy/code of conduct and procedures for prevention of sexual exploitation were drafted by CARE USA to support the work of COs (Annex 33.6). However, our experience has underscored that it is important to ensure that the organisational principles and bottom lines are not compromised in the process of contextualisation. The process (of dialogue and discussions) used while adopting the policy is important in creating staff awareness and ownership for effective implementation of the policy. The guidelines emphasise the importance of prevention. Some of the suggested preventative steps for COs are:

  • Adopt the proposed common global CARE International policy and work towards its effective implementation.
  • Translate the policy in local/regional/national languages to ensure it is understood by all stakeholders.
  • Disseminate and orientate the policy to all stakeholders through interactive discussions.
  • Sensitise all stakeholders and staff to issues of sexual exploitation and abuse through interactive workshops and training.
  • Include the policy in employee induction programme/pre-departure briefings during emergencies.
  • Implement additional training/coaching of staff with specific responsibility to facilitate wider dissemination and understanding of issues related to sexual harassment/exploitation.
  • Link the policy implementation to other organisational initiatives that contribute to creating a culture of trust and security, and promoting equity and respect, thereby creating healthy work environments and work relationships.
  • Monitor and review the policy implementation and revise the policy contents if required.

The overarching objective is to protect beneficiaries not only from CARE staff, but also from partners. Policy dissemination and capacity building should also be extended to partners and the programme communities.