Working to build the beloved community for all: MEDA’s commitment to anti-racism

We’re living through a period of great social change. Around the world, people are reckoning with the legacies of colonialism and racism. This reckoning is also happening in the International Development sector; in response, there have been growing calls to “decolonize” the international development sector by returning more power and resources back into the hands of the people who are most impacted by international development work.

What we’re doing

At MEDA, we’re committed to creating a world that is anti-racist and as a result, more just for everyone. For us, anti-racism is about respect. Respect for the opinions of our colleagues, clients, partners, and donors. Our staff and board strive to live these core values of collaboration, accountability, entrepreneurship, and respect at work and at home. So, in keeping with the North-South equilibrium from our strategic plan and core values, we’re addressing the systems that perpetuate racism and create unequal opportunities for our staff, our clients, and our partners.

Below is how we’re “decolonizing” our work:

  • We’re looking internally to ensure our organizational structures aren’t preventing staff from succeeding and that they are aligned with our values and our goals. We’re also striving to ensure that our staff are supported in their roles – regardless of age, race, gender or where they are located around the globe – with equal opportunity for advancement and career growth.
  • We’re working globally to localize decision-making within our projects, and support those on the ground to identify opportunities, solutions, and to be actively involved in building and implementing projects from the beginning.
  • We’re working with governments to ensure equal opportunities exist for women and youth so that they can unleash their God-given potential to earn a livelihood, provide for their families and enrich their communities.
  • We created a Gender Equality, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (GDEI) committee which was first introduced in late October 2020. The GDEI Committee is made up of MEDA staff members who represent diverse groups. The Committee connects MEDA staff, the People & Culture division, and the Executive Leadership Team to create a culture and atmosphere of mutual respect and inclusion within MEDA. The Committee has presented recommendations to MEDA’s leadership team, communicated the initiative to staff members, and is conducting an internal survey. This year, the Committee will use the Framework’s survey results and recommendations to determine how to put into place anti-racism practices within MEDA.
  • We became a signatory of Cooperation Canada’s Anti-Racism Framework and joined a sector-wide initiative to combat racism in the international development sector. Becoming a signatory to the Framework enables MEDA to collaborate with other NGOs throughout this process, to learn from each other and share resources, and holds us all (as employees in the international development sphere) accountable for recognizing and eliminating the systems in our work that perpetuate racism.

Where we’re going

In Osheta Moore’s keynote address at MEDA’s recent Annual Convention, she shared how in systems of white supremacy, people of color and other minorities are prevented from fulfilling their potential. She elaborated that to achieve reconciliation, the conversation needs to shift from tackling racism on an individual to a systemic level so we can foster reconciliation and build what Martin Luther King calls “the beloved community”. For King, we can achieve the beloved community when we move away from a transactional form of love into “an overflowing of love that seeks nothing in return” and extends towards all people.

As Moore mentioned in her stirring address, becoming the beloved community is an act of courage. For this reason, we’re summoning our courage to look inwards and see how we can usher in this community for all. Using the Strategic Plan as our roadmap, we’re committed to ensuring that half a million people can acquire or sustain decent work and fulfill their God-given potential to earn a livelihood. MEDA is further committed to using our Strategic Plan to help us fulfill our commitments to anti-racism and create a beloved community for all.

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