View chapter 1
Executive Summary
View chapter 2
Findings: Stated commitment to gender equality
View chapter 3
Findings: Definition of gender
View chapter 4
Findings: Workplace gender equality policies
View chapter 5
Findings: Diversity and inclusion policies - Workplace and Board
View chapter 6
Findings: Anti-sexual harassment policies
View chapter 7
Findings: Family-friendly workplace policies
View chapter 8
Findings: Gender and geography of global health leadership
View chapter 9
Findings: Gender pay gap
View chapter 10
Findings: Gender-responsiveness of global health programmes
View chapter 11
Findings: Sex-disaggregated monitoring and evaluation data
View chapter 12
Analysis: Are organisations’ COVID-19 programmatic activities gender-responsive?
View chapter 13
What next: How to use this report to push for change within your organisation
View chapter 14
View chapter 15
Findings: Anti-sexual harassment policies

Chapter 7

Findings: Anti-sexual harassment policies

Chiara Luxardo

Global health continues to be beset by problems of sexual harassment and abuse of power in work environments. While Global Health 50/50 focuses on anti-sexual harassment policies, policies on safeguarding and combatting all forms of bullying, harassment and discrimination are essential to a safe, equitable and respectful workplace.

A comprehensive policy is a fundamental tool to prevent and address sexual harassment and to contribute to the creation of a work environment that is based on dignity and respect. Drawing on good practice as well as existing global norms (including the UN model policy), a range of public and private sector guidelines and peer-reviewed publications, GH5050 identified four elements of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy (see Box).


40% (81/201) of organisations publish their sexual harassment policies online. An additional 31 organisations shared their internal policies and gave permission to code them.

Of the 112 policies reviewed, 71 organisations (63%) were considered to perform adequately by including at least two of the four essential best practices in their policies, including 24 (21%) that included all four elements of best practice. 

A large proportion of policies have some elements of best practice content in terms of: 1) descriptions of reporting and investigation processes (80%); 2) protections regarding confidentiality and retaliation (78%); and 3) state a zero-tolerance approach alongside defining and providing examples of sexual harassment (69%). However, only half (50%) stipulate mandatory training on sexual harassment for staff. For examples of organisational policy language on each of these elements, see page 69 of the 2019 Global Health 50/50 Report.

Transparency of sexual harassment policies has improved since 2019, when Global Health 50/50 first reviewed them. Among the 179 organisations reviewed in 2019 and 2021, 18 more have published their sexual harassment policies online.

Transparency uptick: 18 organisations made their anti-sexual harassment policies newly available to the public since 2019

The Inter-Agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme was launched in 2019 to prevent perpetrators of sexual abuse from moving around the aid sector undetected. The scheme facilitates the systematic bilateral sharing of misconduct data between recruiting organisations and previous employers. The scheme counted more than 60 participating organisations as of January 2021, including Care, Caritas, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, and World Vision.

37 organisations that score “best practice” across all four elements of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy (24 of these policies are in the public domain*)
  • Abt Associates
  • Africa Population and Health Research Centre*
  • Aga Khan Foundation
  • Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research*
  • Amref Health Africa*
  • Becton, Dickinson and Company*
  • Catholic Relief Services*
  • Cordaid*
  • Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative*
  • Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations*
  • Ford Foundation*
  • GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance
  • Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition*
  • Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
  • International Vaccine Institute
  • International Women's Health Coalition
  • Ipas
  • Management Sciences for Health*
  • McCann Health
  • Medicines Patent Pool*
  • Mercy Corps*
  • National Institutes of Health*
  • Palladium Group
  • Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health*
  • Population Services International*
  • Promundo
  • RBM Partnership to End Malaria*
  • Scaling Up Nutrition*
  • Sonke Gender Justice*
  • Stop TB Partnership
  • TB Alliance
  • Teck Resources
  • Unitaid
  • United Nations Development Programme*
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime*
  • World Bank Group*
  • World Health Organization*
Access the policies and detailed findings

To access all publicly available anti-sexual harassment policies that were found to have all four elements of a comprehensive policy this year, go to:

For detailed scores on each organisational policy reviewed, go to: