IWDA Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism

IWDA’s Board and staff is committed to addressing racial injustice wherever it pervades, including within our own organisation. We endeavour to listen, learn and act to become an explicitly anti-racist feminist organisation.

Sparked by a wave of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism protests, the world has witnessed a historic moment of reckoning and reflection on racial justice. This long-overdue reckoning has awoken many white people and others to the realities of systemic racism. We acknowledge that this awakening is a privilege that many Women of Colour colleagues and partners have not been afforded, as they have been all too privy to the ways in which racism manifests in our societies.

IWDA’s herstory is rooted in the international development sector – a sector with has often served as an instrument of neo-colonialism. We acknowledge that the struggle for racial justice is tied to the struggle to dismantle colonial agendas. As a Global North organisation partnering with Global South organisations, it is paramount we apply a de-colonising lens to our work.

As a feminist organisation, we must also reckon with the ways in which some feminist movements have excluded, marginalised and dismissed Women of Colour. IWDA is committed to intersectional feminism both internally and externally, and we see this as inextricably linked to our anti-racist and decolonising approach.

This statement reflects IWDA’s journey to becoming a more inclusive and diverse organisation. This journey is core to our values and vision. We do not claim to have all the answers – far from it. We will continue to update this page as we listen, learn and act.

We must firstly acknowledge that present-day Australia is built on a colonial legacy of oppression. As an Australian-based organisation, we acknowledge the deep and painful history of racism in Australia that stems from colonisation and continues to thrive in our institutions and communities today. We cannot talk about tackling racism without first committing to First Nations justice.

We apologise for perpetuating racism and marginalisation. Former staff of IWDA have publically shared experiences they had in the organisation of racism, stemming from power dynamics that caused resultant harm to emotional and mental wellbeing. These experiences are unacceptable and we are delving deeply into our practices and workplace culture. We acknowledge we must focus on addressing racism at all levels – institutional, structural and interpersonal – in order to make IWDA a safe and inclusive workplace for all.

We commit to de-colonising our practice. The inequities we seek to address through our work are both a result of, and perpetuated by, historical and contemporary forms of colonialism. In our Strategic Plan 2020-2023, we explicitly state our intention to decolonise our approach to feminism and development. This means we seek to understand when to step up and use our power, stand with feminist movements in solidarity and step back when others are better placed to take the lead*.

We commit to action. IWDA recognises that our words have little value if they are not accompanied by action. Our new Strategic Plan 2020-2023 defines diversity and inclusion as core work. In the plan, Objective 3.3 states we will “improve organisational enablers of diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation”. As first steps, we have committed to and realised the following actions:

  • In early 2021, staff and leaders participated in training sessions on race and racism, People of Colour power and resilience (PoC and First Nations staff only), deconstructing whiteness and allyship in the workplace. These sessions are not a tick-box exercise, but rather a means of facilitating open conversations in a safe and inclusive way.
  •  In 2021 we commissioned a transparent and participatory review of all elements of organisational culture at IWDA and seek recommendations to improve our culture so it is more inclusive, resilient and ensures we are living our values. This work is currently inflight.
  • In 2021, we have recruited and onboarded five Women of Colour Board Directors.
  • We commit to the Australian Council for International Development’s Resolution on Race, Diversity and Australian INGOs [PDF]. As part of this commitment, we resolve to progress dialogue and action on greater representation, participation and access to decision-making for diverse women within our own governance and leadership structure.

IWDA is committed to applying an intersectional feminist lens to everything we do. While this statement is centred on our anti-racism agenda, we are committed to improving many forms of diversity and inclusion. This includes addressing the compounding experiences of discrimination that many women experience, based on their Aboriginality, age, physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status, gender diversity, sexual identity, religion and other identities.

We will keep our community of stakeholders updated on the commitments outlined in this statement, and we will continue to provide updates as our work progresses.

August 2021

*Our “Step Up, Stand With, Step Back” approach is included in our Strategic Plan 2020-2023. The approach is an adaption of the framework proposed by Shirley Walters and Shauna Butterwick in their 2017 publication Moves to Decolonise Solidarity Through Feminist Popular Education.

Further Reading

Raising a complaint

At IWDA we are committed to accountability and continuous learning and improvement. We take complaints very seriously. If you would like to raise a complaint with us, we will work with you to understand the situation, resolve it as quickly as possible and put in place measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We value complaints as opportunities for us to learn and improve.

To find out how to make a complaint, or make a report under our Whistleblower Policy, see our Complaints Procedure.