Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policy at SeedChange
SeedChange’s mission is to build food sovereignty by working with partners to enhance biodiversity, promote ecological food systems, and counter inequity. Together we are working towards a vision of an equitable world sustained by just and resilient food systems: a world in which people can live with dignity, have their basic needs met, their rights respected, and have the ability to control their own lives.
Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is a pervasive risk in situations that involve power relations and gender inequalities. In the last two decades, the issue has come to public awareness through several scandalous incidents in the international development and humanitarian assistance sector. In response, the international community has mobilized. In 2002, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Ad Hoc Working Group published six core principles to prevent and address SEA. Since then, other international entities have pledged to enact measures and policies for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). Global Affairs Canada joined the movement and communicated new requirements on PSEA to the Canadian official development assistance (ODA) sector in May 2018. SeedChange endorses and abides by all these principles and requirements.
SEA violates the dignity of people and reduces their ability to control their own lives. SeedChange will work to ensure that people have access to our activities without fear of SEA by any staff member or related personnel, including any individuals who might be working for, or acting on behalf of the organization, whether on a voluntary or paid basis. SeedChange recognizes that it is our duty to mitigate the risks of sexual violence. We believe it is essential that all organizations proactively address the issues that contribute to sexual violence in our organizations and take concrete actions to prevent the increased risk of SEA within our programs and the communities we serve.
SeedChange recognizes that there are unequal power dynamics across the organization and in relation to those we serve, including the risk of power being exploited for personal gain. The people most at risk of experiencing sexual violence due to power exploitation are those of minority or marginalized groups, including women, children, non-binary people and trans people. The risk is also heightened for those facing discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, culture, age, physical ability, education, language, skills, family status, religious, political, and other beliefs.
Zero Tolerance Declaration
All SeedChange employees and related personnel are expected to uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct at all times, and to collaborate with all national and international partners in a manner that respects and upholds the rights of beneficiaries and other vulnerable members of local communities.
SEA is perpetrated by people who abuse their position of power and thereby violate universally recognized international legal rights and standards. SEA are unacceptable behaviors and prohibited conduct for all SeedChange representatives, including SeedChange employees and related personnel1.
Therefore, SeedChange has a policy of zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual misconduct including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
Commitment to Staff
Our employees receive a copy of the SeedChange Policy on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). All SeedChange personnel must sign a declaration of commitment to the SeedChange PSEA Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is available here. The minimum terms of the SeedChange Code of Conduct will be communicated to partner organizations, and they will be expected to ensure that their own representatives have made equivalent or greater commitments.
All SeedChange employees, Board members, interns and volunteers must read and sign our PSEA Code of Conduct as well as successfully complete our mandatory safeguarding training. The training consists of a Mandatory Introductory Session and Annual PSEA training.
We have a team of two Focal Points and the Executive Director that works to make safeguarding an integral part of all that we do. The team is the key contact for all PSEA questions. They plan, review, and verify the application of the policy.
Reporting and Responding
SeedChange will respond in a professional and timely manner to all concerns or allegations of SEA. All reports will be treated seriously, investigated, and acted upon where appropriate, in line with survivor-centred approach principles. There is a reporting decision and follow-up tree. The ultimate responsibility rests with the Executive Director and the Chair of the Board. External investigators will be used as SeedChange does not have the internal capacity and to ensure impartiality.
SeedChange approaches sexual violence from the survivor’s2 perspective and needs when responding and addressing SEA. All decisions regarding PSEA will be guided by the principles of the survivor-centred approach.
SeedChange seeks to address SEA by preventing it from occurring in the first place, through robust recruitment screening processes, training all staff and partner organizations (as required), emphasizing safe programming (including risk assessment and mitigation), and putting in place a communication and awareness-raising plan.
Through our work, we strive to build a survivor-centred culture in which programme participants and victims/survivors feel confident and safe to discuss or report any concerns. We do this by ensuring the safety, rights, needs, wishes and empowerment of our programme participants and any potential victim/survivor guide our efforts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you have questions or concerns about PSEA we can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613.234.6827 extension 228.
 The term “related personnel” includes sub-contractors, suppliers, consultants, interns or volunteers, and associated partner organization’s staff collaborating with or working on behalf of SeedChange.
 The term “Survivor” is preferred in the mental health and social service sectors because it implies resilience rather than the word “victim”, which is often perceived as passive. People who have experienced trauma, however, can identify themselves in the way they prefer, either victim, survivor, or even thriver.