"This must be the start of the process to restore trust in the sector."
The Charity Commission has launched an investigation into Save the Children’s handling of harassment claims against senior staff.
The announcement comes after the Women’s Equality Party protested and interrupted a board meeting so that branch leader and former Save the Children employee Alexia Pepper de Caires could force trustees to listen to her experiences.
Recording of Alexia storming the board room:
Alexia Pepper de Caires, former Save the Children employee and co-leader of the Women’s Equality Party Hackney branch, said:
“It is time that Save the Children understood what true accountability means, given their efforts to silence women at every step of this process. I and other women have been forced into the media spotlight and into the boardroom to show that valuing women is not an optional extra in 2018. There have been many opportunities for those involved in the mishandling of reports of sexual harassment to step down and ensure that Save the Children is a safe place for staff, which they have not taken.
“The Charity Commission are well placed to demand the changes that Save the Children should have been striving for themselves, particularly as they belong in the international development sector and advocate for accountability in other countries.
“This inquiry gives the space for all women to contribute their experiences, particularly to ensure the most vulnerable women who I do not believe have yet been heard. Those who are not speaking publicly are those who have been the most affected by the institutional treatment of their reports, and I want to send them a message that we are listening.
“I continue to support the vital work of Save the Children and other organisations who fight for the rights for those who are exploited and mistreated all over the world.”
A Women’s Equality Party spokesperson said:
“Because of women like Alexia, the culture of cover-ups that was flourishing at NGOs and charities has been exposed.
“Instead of holding to account those responsible for wrongdoing, Save the Children and others made a misguided attempt to protect their reputations that let the perpetrators continue with impunity.
“Those who oversaw these abuses of power must take responsibility, starting with Alan Parker, but the problems go beyond any individual and we hope the Charity Commission investigation will be the start of the process of restoring confidence in the sector.
“These organisations cannot convincingly advocate for women’s rights in other countries if they cannot build a safe working environment for women employees at home.”