This week the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a report that documented extensive, structural racism within the Ministry – both in the Hague and at Dutch embassies abroad.
Mama Cash welcomes the Ministry’s initiative – both in undertaking this investigation and in transparently publishing the results, and we are keen to see how the Ministry implements the report’s recommendations. It appears that the MFA is taking the report seriously and is endeavouring to take action that goes beyond surface-level responses. The report’s findings and recommendations create an important opportunity to take action within the Ministry to identify, disrupt, and begin to redress racism. By taking these steps, the Ministry can begin to address the harm done to past and present Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) staff, who are directly affected by racism, including Islamophobia. Confronting racism is also an important way for the Ministry to live its values of contributing to a socially just world.
Mama Cash also encourages the Dutch government to make a commitment to decolonising its foreign policy and doing the work to become explicitly anti-racist. This work matters beyond the context of this report and the MFA as an institution, as laid bare in the childcare allowance (toeslagenaffaire) scandal and in the government’s plans to apologise for the Netherlands’ history of slavery to name two recent examples. The development of the Netherlands’ feminist foreign policy provides an opportunity for the Ministry to actively counter institutional racism, including in its relationships with Global South partner organisations and civil society. The Ministry’s commitment to shifting power should include acknowledging and disrupting the unequal power structures – including white supremacy – that persist in policies and practices and at all levels within the Ministry, its embassies, and other government departments.
As a feminist fund, Mama Cash is committed to being an anti-racist organisation where pluralism and diversity are valued, and people of all identities feel and are welcome. We know that to meaningfully disrupt and dismantle racist practices and move towards racial solidarity in our organisations, communities, and society, takes more than a one-time diversity training or review of hiring practices. It requires a sustained commitment to the deep work of shifting institutional and individual attitudes, habits, and practices that keep racism and white supremacy values alive and unchallenged.