More than 1,100 women living and working within the international aid sector in 81 countries have signed an open letter demanding that women be “taken seriously by men and decision makers in humanitarian and development organizations”.
The Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal signals the arrival of the moment for an honest public conversation about charities’ role in society, the white saviour mentality, gender relations, charity accountability, and the impact of western aid and power in developing countries.
Like political campaign contributions, today’s self-interested foreign aid often supports badly-designed development projects, imposes foreign investor-friendly policies on recipient countries, facilitates access to intended beneficiaries’ resources, helps aid-giving countries to look good on the world stage, all the while making unquestioning taxpayers in aid giving countries feel good about their supposed generosity.
An eye-opening report released by the Washington, D.C.-based Global Financial Integrity in December 2015 reveals an inconvenient truth: Between 2004 and 2013, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe lost a staggering US$2.76 billion to multinational corporations through “illicit financial flows”.
There is nothing to celebrate about the US$260 million Africa recently netted by cracking down on tax avoidance. The figure pales in comparison to the billions the continent losses to “illicit financial flows” every year thanks to corporate tax avoidance by multinational corporations, corruption by African officials, and African countries’ weak audit capacities.