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Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion in Humanitarian Programming

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Promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion with our new training course.

The meaning of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in different contexts and the use of power to create more intersectional approaches is a central debate for humanitarians. In recent years, it has become clear that international aid workers must begin to deepen their understanding of power dimensions and reflect upon their own biases and behaviours.

In the aid sector, the discussion of power imbalances that shape humanitarian coordination mechanisms is long overdue. The concepts of power and change are central themes of EDI and have clear implications for equality, gender-based violence, social inclusion, and decolonisation within the sector.

As part of this process to understand these themes, it is incumbent on international NGOs to address diversity, equality, and inclusion within their own structures and programmes, and to reflect on how to change the biases and behaviours that have entrenched power imbalances.

To further this process, RedR UK has developed a new training course: Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion in Humanitarian Programming. The course, which comprises one compulsory module and four optional modules, will run over a three-week period starting on 21 February. You can select any of these optional modules depending on your needs and develop your own learning journey at a pace that suits you.

To sign up to these modules, follow the links below:

The training course will enable participants to reflect more deeply on behaviours in the humanitarian sector and will help foster a long-term process of positive change. 

We spoke to two of the training designers, Kate Denman and Lata Narayanaswamy, to understand why this training is needed and the context behind it.

What do equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) mean to you?

Personally, these three words mean that we embrace differences, we provide equal opportunities to everyone and meet the range of different needs that a diverse community needs. This includes considerations for people of different gender identities, sexual orientation, race, ethnicities, class/caste, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups. To achieve equal opportunities, we need to look at shared histories and power imbalances that shape today’s realities in order to readjust and redistribute power.

Why are equality, diversity, and inclusion particularly important in the humanitarian sector?

The humanitarian sector’s history has been based on colonial histories, largely run by white men from the ‘Global North’. This means that there is rarely ever any historical reflection on why a crisis might be occurring, nor why there may be a lack of local capacity to manage that crisis.

Colonial legacies underpin the idea of ‘aid’ and how it is ‘delivered’; as charity, or a benevolent gift to people with less knowledge and capacity than ‘rich’ world governments. This attitude in turn influences how decisions are made and by whom, both internally and externally. To meet the needs of diverse people in crisis we must reflect on how our own systems and programmes are created and what attitudes, behaviours and power structures need to change to ensure a genuine shift to localisation that embraces equality and diversity.

Are equality, diversity, and inclusion in the sector currently receiving the attention they deserve?

Whilst EDI is rightly receiving more attention than ever, we need to ensure this is not a ‘tick box’, and that these are not just a few whimsical words placed on websites and pushed into proposals. We need to build understanding, reflect on our behaviours and be part of the change that is required. In this sense, RedR’s training course is focused on self-reflection and programme change.

We have created a modular course to enable participants to take their journey at their pace. The modules are designed to be the start of a much longer journey of change, not just a box you can tick and then move on to something else. They will give you the confidence and resources to be part the sector’s diversity, equality, and inclusion movement.

Lasting change can only occur when we begin to reflect on our own attitudes and behaviours regarding diversity, equality, and inclusion. It is our goal that this training course will help begin this process of self-reflection, and will enable participants to implement the kind of change needed to decolonise humanitarian aid.

To sign up to our Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion training course, click here.