Global news outlet
Jun. 16, 2022
UNAIDS reports on the steps taken in building a safe, equal and empowering workplace
GENEVA, 16 June 2022—In advance of the meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board taking place 21-24 June, UNAIDS is reporting publicly on the steps taken to date to strengthen accountability, counter harassment and build a safe, equal and empowering workplace.
Human rights, equality and dignity are at the heart of UNAIDS mission and are fundamental to its operations. In 2018, an independent expert panel underscored the need to address the organizational systems and culture of the time that had failed to tackle unacceptable behaviour of some employees. UNAIDS put in motion a Management Action Plan and has continued to work to ensure that sexual harassment and all other forms of abusive conduct are addressed, and that victims are provided with adequate support and effective complaint handling mechanisms.
“Ensuring that UNAIDS is a safe, equal and empowering workplace has been my top priority from my arrival,” said Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. “The independent expert panel report of 2018 showed that UNAIDS systems, culture and leadership had got it wrong. I have been determined that past failings are addressed by delivering justice in cases and by continuing to transform our systems and culture to ensure that UNAIDS reflects the values we espouse.”
The process of transformation of systems and culture to ensure a safe, equal and empowering workplace has included: strengthening the UNAIDS Secretariat’s capacities and systems for accountability; ensuring the organization’s duty of care responsibilities to its staff are being met; and advancing feminist and anti-racist leadership principles in all UNAIDS work.
The set of actions that have been taken by UNAIDS include the following:
These steps forward are not the end of the journey. Further action to strengthen accountability and equality in systems and culture continues.
“Whilst we are moving in the right direction, we will not let up,” said Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, “We still have more to do. We will continue to take necessary measures to ensure a culture of zero tolerance of sexual harassment and abuse, and other forms of misconduct, such as bullying, racism and discrimination across all UNAIDS offices. Justice is what drives me as the leader of UNAIDS, and it is what drives the mission of UNAIDS. The MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have shown the deep-seated inequalities and injustices within institutions. UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy focuses on ending inequalities to end AIDS. To do this effectively, we will tackle head on the inequalities and injustices that exist within UNAIDS and the UN system. We will further strengthen our work both on organisational systems and on culture, to ensure safety, equality and empowerment for all.”