To celebrate Women's Day 2024, we are releasing a week-long series featuring “Women of VWB”. The Women of VWB are effective and powerful change-makers who #InspireInclusion daily. Today, we introduce you to Esther Mburu, VWB Country Program Manager in Kenya.
1. VWB/VSF POLICY STATEMENT
VWB/VSF seeks to incorporate respect for, and promotion of basic human rights into all of its programming. At the heart of VWB/VSF’s efforts to impact poverty through a One Health approach is its engagement with marginalised communities, and vulnerable adults and children. Vulnerable adults and children are particularly at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse.
VWB/VSF has zero tolerance for Sexual Misconduct of any kind among VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel. In the promotion of a working environment free of harassment and abuse, VWB/VSF has committed to fight abuse and to reinforce mechanisms and procedures to prevent and address it. This includes enhancing grievance channels at all levels of the organisation, and supporting victims and whistleblowers. VWB/VSF follows these guidelines:
- Everyone engaged in the work of VWB/VSF has a right to work in a harassment-free and respectful environment.
- VWB/VSF is committed to addressing inappropriate behaviour, including Sexual Misconduct, by or towards its employees or related personnel.
- VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel responsible for conduct which can be construed as Sexual Misconduct will be subject to appropriate administrative and/or disciplinary measures.
- Measures to deal with Sexual Misconduct will be based on the principles of fairness, impartiality, sensitivity and respect. However, VWB/VSF recognize the importance of believing those people who come forward with accusations of Sexual Misconduct and taking steps to protect victims from the person or people alleged to have committed Sexual Misconduct.
- Everyone who represents VWB/VSF has a responsibility to sustain a respectful work environment by upholding the highest standards of conduct and applying necessary confidentiality measures. VWB/VSF will ensure that adequate resources are available to promote a positive work environment and to prevent inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.
- Complainants have the right to choose an informal (discussion with Immediate Supervisor, Country Director and/or Local Coordinator) or formal dispute resolution process (via the online complaints mechanism – vwbincidents.ca)
- VWB/VSF will provide appropriate mechanisms to prevent or deal with retaliation related to the reporting of allegations of Sexual Misconduct.
2. CORE PRINCIPLES
In order to protect the most vulnerable populations, particularly vulnerable children, and to ensure the integrity of VWB/VSF activities, the following Core Principles must be adhered to:
- Sexual Misconduct by VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel is prohibited in all its forms, whether it occurs during or outside of work hours.
- VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel are prohibited from exchanging money, employment, favours, goods, or services for sexual activity regardless of whether it occurs during or outside of work hours and regardless of local laws regarding sex work.
- Sexual relationships between VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel and members of a community in which VWB/VSF is operating programs have the potential to undermine the credibility and integrity of VWB/VSF’s humanitarian and development work and are at high risk of involving power differentials that may vitiate consent. Therefore, sexual relationships with community members are:
- prohibited in the case of community members who are program recipients because the inherently unequal power dynamics involved in such relationships prevent them from being considered consensual
- prohibited in the case of members of crisis-affected populations given their increased vulnerability, since such relationships are based on inherently unequal power dynamic; and
- discouraged in the case of community members who are neither program recipients nor members of a crisis-affected community.
- Where VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel develop concerns or suspicions regarding Sexual Misconduct by a fellow worker, whether or not the fellow worker is a VWB/VSF Employee or Related Personnel, the person must immediately report such concerns to their VWB/VSF Manager or Supervisor or via the VWB/VSF reporting mechanism: www.vwbincidents.ca.
VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel are obliged to create and maintain an environment that prevents Sexual Misconduct and promotes the implementation of this Policy. VWB/VSF
- Managers and Supervisors at all levels bear a particular onus to support and develop systems, which maintain this environment.
- Proven Sexual Misconduct by VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment, volunteer mission, or consultancy contract.
VWB/VSF is dedicated to fulfilling the six Core Principles through implementation of the following Commitments. This includes time-bound, measurable indicators of progress to enable all entities of VWB/VSF, and others, to monitor VWB/VSF’s performance:
- VWB/VSF will adhere to our strategies and procedures to prevent and respond to Sexual Misconduct. These include assigning specific job responsibilities (such as staff training, review of police checks prior to recruitment, careful review of behaviour with employee references, monitoring complaints and response mechanisms, and coordinating high-level oversight and progress reports by directors) to specific staff positions to support and ensure effective implementation of organization strategies to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.
- VWB/VSF will undertake annual risk assessments to identify areas of risk and document steps to be taken to remove or reduce these risks.
- VWB/VSF will ensure that the all VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel are provided with a copy of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and agree to abide by the Code of Conduct, and that standards on Sexual Misconduct are addressed in contracts, country manuals and in induction materials and training courses for VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel, including specific provisions for child sexual exploitation and abuse.
- VWB/VSF will ensure that when engaging in partnerships, sub-grant or sub-recipient agreements, these agreements will: a) incorporate this Policy as an attachment; b) include the appropriate language requiring such contracting entities and individuals, and their employees and volunteers to abide with the Code of Conduct that is set out in this Policy; and c) explicitly state that the failure of those entities or individuals, as appropriate, to take preventive measures against Sexual Misconduct, to investigate and report allegations thereof, or to take corrective actions when Sexual Misconduct has occurred, shall constitute grounds for VWB/VSF to terminate such agreements and pursue legal action.
- VWB/VSF will regularly inform VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel and communities in which we are active about measures we have taken to prevent and respond to Sexual Misconduct. Such information will often be developed and disseminated in-country in cooperation with other relevant agencies (VCAs, NGOs, partners who could be impacted) and VWB/VSF will use its best efforts to ensure that these materials include details on complaint mechanisms, the status and outcome of investigations in general terms, feedback on actions taken against perpetrators, and follow-up measures taken as well as assistance available to complainants and survivors. Any information that is not of a general nature and concerns specific cases must respect confidentiality for all parties involved, including the survivor and family, VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel, and the ongoing investigation process, particularly where there are legal implications.
- VWB/VSF will ensure that complaint mechanisms for reporting Sexual Misconduct are accessible to anyone wanting to make a report of Sexual Misconduct, whether that complainant is a VWB/VSF Employee or Related Personnel, a program recipient, a community member, or a member of the wider public. VWB/VSF undertakes to ensure that VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel assigned a role in the receiving of complaints are knowledgeable about how to discharge their duties. VWB/VSF has put in place institutional protocols that have been added to this policy and include: Procedures for Reporting Sexual Misconduct (Appendix B to this Policy), for Investigating Allegations of Sexual Misconduct (Appendix C to this Policy) and processes for managing VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel accused of violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy or Code of Conduct, including the potential disciplinary steps for VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel found to have violated the Policy or Code of Conduct.
- VWB/VSF will ensure the reasonable support and assistance to complainants of Sexual Misconduct. This may include medical treatment, and psychosocial support as appropriate and according to the needs of the survivor whilst also taking account of confidentiality, cultural sensitivities and survivor safety.
In compliance with applicable laws, VWB/VSF will prevent perpetrators of Sexual Misconduct from being (re)hired or (re)deployed. VWB/VSF Managers and Supervisors, in conjunction with human resource personnel (at headquarters and in the field) must ensure robust recruitment screening processes for all personnel, particularly for personnel who will have any direct or indirect contact with children. Depending on local conditions this could include use of background and criminal reference/record checks, verbal referee checks, and interview plans that incorporate behavioural-based interview questions.
- VWB/VSF will investigate all allegations of Sexual Misconduct in a timely and professional manner. This includes the use of culturally- and age-appropriate interviewing practices with complainants and witnesses, particularly with children. VWB/VSF will engage professional investigators or secure investigative expertise as appropriate, including law enforcement.
Where an investigation into an allegation of Sexual Misconduct against VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel suggests that the allegation is credible, VWB/VSF will take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the victim by preventing the alleged perpetrator from engaging in Sexual Misconduct or intimidating a victim or witness.
- VWB/VSF will take swift and appropriate action, including legal action when required, against VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel who commit Sexual Misconduct. This may include administrative or disciplinary action, and/or referral to the relevant authorities for appropriate action, including criminal prosecution, in the abuser’s country of origin as well as the host country.
- VWB/VSF will take appropriate actions to the best of VWB/VSF’s abilities to protect persons from retaliation where allegations of Sexual Misconduct are reported involving VWB/VSF Employees or Related Personnel.
- VWB/VSF strives to ensure high-level oversight and review of how Sexual Misconduct reports are received and acted upon in order to monitor the effectiveness of VWB/VSF policies and procedures in preventing and responding to Sexual Misconduct.
 The six Core Principles are adapted from the UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13).
 The Commitments are based on the Statement of Commitment Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and non-UN Personnel, August 2008.
Our commitment to truth, reconciliation and decolonization
Veterinarians Without Borders board members, staff, volunteers, donors, and supporters live and work on the traditional territory of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples—from coast to coast to coast.
Our office is situated in the unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial.
With our Northern Animal Health Initiative, VWB/VSF staff and volunteers travel extensively through the Inuit homelands of Nunavut and Inuvialuit, as well as those of Dene and Decho First Nations, and Metis peoples. We are thankful for the opportunity to work and collaborate on these lands through sustained relationships with Indigenous peoples based on mutual respect, dignity, trust, and cooperation, in the process of advancing truth and reconciliation.
Much of our work also takes place in other parts of the world. We work with various communities in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe to respond to pressing needs on the ground. Through our work, we are
committed to better understanding colonial histories, and present-day colonial legacies and realities, within the international cooperation sector and in the areas where we work. Together with our
partners, we aim to embrace local and Indigenous knowledge and create space for participatory approaches to development. As an international development organization, operating within Canada
and around the globe, we strive to decolonize our understandings and approaches as we work to create lasting and positive change.
We believe it is critical to decolonize our mindset and practices. In all of our program areas, we are guided by the communities we work with and we are committed to participatory and inclusive
approaches to development. Through listening and partnership, we are guided by these relationships and aim to continue on the path towards reconciliation. As an organization, we are committed to
learning and to taking seriously the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and other decolonial frameworks that are relevant to our work.
We are committed to:
• Ensuring Indigenous stakeholders, including community members, organizations,and Indigenous government bodies, are part of the conversations and planning in a meaningful way
• Seeking to remove barriers to participation for Indigenous peoples and communities to use and participate in our programming
• Valuing local and Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing and allowing diverse perspectives to influence program activities and directives
• Improving organizational and programmatic frameworks that embrace Indigenous knowledge and that encourage active partnership and participation
• Remaining in conversation with Indigenous communities to move toward reconciliation in our work
We have a long way to go, and we are committed to the journey. Please note that this acknowledgement will evolve over time. VWB/VSF will continue to update this page as we
learn, reflect, and remain accountable.
This land acknowledgement was developed with the support of Evan Matchett-Wong, a member of Cold Lake First Nation in Treaty 6 Territory and local community resource on land
Types of Personal Information Collected
The following types of personal information may be collected through our website or through the use of our services:
1. Contact information, such as name, email address, postal address, and telephone number.
2. Demographic information, such as age, gender, and location.
3. Professional information, such as job title and employer.
4. Other information, such as opinions and feedback, survey responses, and communication preferences.
How Personal Information is Used
VWB uses personal information for the following purposes:
1. To provide, improve, and enhance our services and website.
2. To communicate with you, including sending newsletters, updates, and promotional materials.
3. To process donations and manage fundraising campaigns.
4. To comply with legal requirements and to respond to legal process.
VWB retains personal information for as long as necessary to fulfill the purposes for which it was collected and to comply with legal obligations.
Data Sharing and Disclosure
VWB does not sell or rent personal information to third parties. In some cases, personal information may be shared with trusted third-party service providers for the purpose of providing services on our behalf. These service providers are contractually obligated to keep the information confidential and to use it only for the purpose of providing services to VWB.
In limited circumstances, personal information may be disclosed to third parties to comply with legal requirements or to protect the rights, property, or safety of VWB, its employees, or others.
VWB takes appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal information against unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction, or damage.
Accessing and Updating Your Personal Information
VWB/VSF CANADA HEADQUARTERS
700 Industrial Ave #410, Ottawa, ON K1G 0Y9 CA
VWB/VSF Canada is a registered charity, # 84146 9547 RR0001
What are Cookies?
Cookies are small text files that are placed on your device by a website. They are used to store information, such as your preferences and activity, and to remember you when you return to the website. Cookies can also be used to track your activity on the website and to deliver targeted advertisements.
Types of Cookies Used by VWB
VWB uses the following types of cookies on our website:
1. Essential Cookies: These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be turned off. They are used to provide basic website functionality, such as remembering your preferences and maintaining your session.
2. Performance Cookies: These cookies collect information about how you use our website, such as which pages you visit and how long you spend on the site. This information is used to improve the website performance and user experience.
3. Functionality Cookies: These cookies allow the website to remember your preferences, such as your preferred language or region.
4. Marketing Cookies: These cookies are used to track your activity on our website and to deliver targeted advertisements to you. They may be placed by us or by third-party advertising networks.
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your web browser (go to the settings in Chrome, Firefox or other browser). However, declining cookies may impact the functionality of our website and some features may not work as intended.
Instructions for Modifying Cookies in Your Browser
Cookies can be managed in your web browser settings. The steps to modify cookies vary depending on the type of browser you are using. Here are instructions for some popular browsers:
Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the browser and select "Settings."
Scroll down and click on "Privacy and security."
Click on "Cookies and other site data."
Here, you can manage your cookie settings, such as deleting all or specific cookies, blocking all cookies, or allowing all cookies by default.
Click on the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of the browser and select "Options."
Select "Privacy & Security" from the left-hand menu.
Under "Cookies and Site Data," you can manage your cookie settings, such as deleting all or specific cookies, blocking all cookies, or allowing all cookies by default.
Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the browser and select "Settings."
Scroll down and click on "Privacy and security."
Under "Cookies," you can manage your cookie settings, such as clearing your cookies, blocking all cookies, or allowing all cookies by default.
Click on the Safari menu and select "Preferences."
Click on the "Privacy" tab.
Under "Cookies and website data," you can manage your cookie settings, such as clearing your cookies, blocking all cookies, or allowing all cookies by default.
It's important to note that modifying your cookie settings may impact the functionality of websites and some features may not work as intended. If you have any questions or issues with modifying your cookie settings, you can contact the support team for your specific web browser.