Reducing the Risk of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse during Crisis

In this session you will:

  • Learn more about Digna 
  • Explore concrete steps your organization can take to limit sexual exploitation and abuse during the COVID-19 response and in other crises

A Message from our Team

Experience from past pandemics and emergencies has shown that sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is more prevalent during times of crisis. While we are all mobilizing to address the primary impacts of this emergency, it is equally important that we factor in and address the increased risk of SEA within our programs and take concrete actions to prevent it. We know that now we are all struggling both personally and professionally. In this context, we want to recommend four easy actions your organization can take to continue making progress on best practices for PSEA even during this stressful time.


Identify a focal point within your organization for staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and link them to the Digna network. This does not have to be an expert on PSEA. Skills and resources exist in the wider sector and Digna will be there to provide support. What is important is to designate someone who can serve as that connecting link. Don’t forget to send your organizational contact information to us at Digna.info@ccic.ca.

Get your Code of Conduct out!

Out of the filing cabinet, off your website or from your head! Make sure that it explicitly forbids any kind of exploitative or abusive sexual behaviour. It should also include contact information for your focal point. If you do not have a current Code of Conduct, AQOCI has a resource that can help. Do not over complicate your code – the main point is to clearly state your expectations for staff, volunteers and partners.


Circulate your Code of Conduct to employees, volunteers, international partners (translated to local languages where possible) and to the general public through your website. 


Remind everyone often about your organization’s expectations to PSEA and share contact information for your focal point regularly. For example, consider having a standard opening slide for your Zoom or Teams meetings that highlights this information or a pop-up on your website.

We are in a time of change and crisis, and that brings new challenges. However, as noted by the Interagency Standing Committee responsible for the highest level of humanitarian coordination in the United Nations: 

" As with any emergency, PSEA prevention and response should be a central part of coordinated humanitarian action. The crisis does not create new responsibilities; rather, PSEA actions during the COVID-19 pandemic should strengthen existing PSEA commitments to protect and assist people receiving humanitarian assistance."
Inter Agency Standing Committee

There are many other things you can do to PSEA in your programming. We know it can feel overwhelming to implement everything at once; but we plan to walk you through the process in simple, bite size steps over the coming months. We encourage you to sign up to the Digna mailing list.  We invite you to connect to more than 40 expert members of the Digna Advisory Committee and Working Groups who are building synergy for our collective, sector wide commitment to protect our beneficiaries. To get involved, contact us at Digna.info@ccic.ca.

Digna is here to help you continue your journey on PSEA – wherever you are in that journey. We encourage you to watch for and participate in the coming events and activities of the Centre.

At Digna, we are here to support you. Together in collaboration in Canada and everywhere.

We can be worthy, we can be Digna!

COVID-19 resources

Cooperation Canada

Responding to COVID-19

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us operate on a day-to-day basis. We have seen the cancellation of events, closing of stores, restaurants and workplaces, and the need for physical distancing in order to help control the spread of the virus. Our sector is not immune to all these changes.”

Global Affairs Canada

Guidance on eligibility of COVID-19 potential costs

Response to COVID-19 in Terms of Eligible Costs and Reporting Flexibilities for International Development Assistance Program. The guidance is to ensure there are no contractual or financial barriers that would prevent getting Canadians home and following Government of Canada directions on mandatory self-isolation upon return.