Regarding December 9th’s news of alleged discrimination against primarily women of foreign origin taking place at Iceland Family Aid:
W.O.M.E.N. in Iceland takes this matter very seriously. As an organization dedicated to the betterment of women of foreign origin in Iceland, we are deeply disappointed to hear that Iceland Family Aid (Fjölskyldahjálp) has again appeared in the news for alleged discrimination against foreigners.
The first time this happened was in 2010. Despite the director’s denials of engaging in discrimination of foreigners to the press, a transcript of her recorded conversation was later published showing that these denials were not based on fact. As such, bearing in mind that this latest news is based on allegations, some of them from individuals who did not want their name on the record, we nonetheless believe the onus is on the directorship of Fjölskyldahjálp to demonstrate, without a shadow of a doubt, that everyone who comes to them for help is treated equally, regardless of nationality, religion, gender or race.
We would like to remind Reyjavík City Council of their obligation to work with the proposal for a comprehensive campaign against prejudice and hate speech put forth on behalf of W.O.M.E.N in Iceland on April 30th 2019 at the collaborative City Council and Multicultural Committee meeting. City Council members voted unanimously to work with the following proposal:
“It is hereby proposed that the City of Reykjavík launch a comprehensive campaign against prejudice and hate speech against immigrants in order to promote the development of a society where all members of society can live with dignity, peace and harmony. The campaign could focus first on the workplaces of the City of Reykjavík and then on society as a whole, with the aim of raising awareness of the diversity of society, encouraging more positive language and realizing the increased quality and opportunities that diversity entails. Finally, it is crucial to enhance the professional knowledge of the staff among all departments within the City of Reykjavík regarding cultural sensitivity and skills” (proposal in it’s entirety accessible here in Icelandic)
In light of this, we furthermore call upon Reykjavík City Council to also hold Fjölskyldahjálp accountable, to demand a fully transparent investigation and, if discrimination is indeed at work at Fjölskyldahjálp, to withdraw any municipal funding that Fjölskyldahjálp receives, as the city cannot and must not provide funding to an organization operating in direct opposition to Reykjavík’s clearly established human rights policies.
We realize that this year especially, there are many people in need of food assistance. But in light of recent events, we would like to instead direct people to Mæðrastyrksnefnd, Hjálparstarf kirkjunnar, Pepp Ísland, grasrót fólks í fátækt and Hjálpræðisherinn amongst the groups that people should lend their support to, and seek help from, until such time as Iceland Family Aid unequivocally demonstrates that discrimination is not a part of their work practices.
Board members at W.O.M.E.N. in Iceland