Campaigns

Even It Up is an Oxfam campaign that aims to balance the scales by fighting income inequality. The world’s wealthiest can hide their money behind the tax breaks and tax havens they have the power to create. The money put away lies dormant, when it could have helped increase education, increase healthcare, and consequently better the lives of people who are in dire need. So how does this happen, and how does Oxfam help?

    Over the years, the world has seen great progress in reducing mortality rates and world hunger, while tackling extreme poverty. But these efforts now face another threat — unequal distribution of wealth. In 2014, 85 individuals owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world does, according to a video by Oxfam International and in 2016, that number went down to 62, increasing the disproportionate distribution of wealth in the world.  In places like Nairobi, Kenya, this soaring wealth can sit right next to an urban slum.

     Nairobi is the fifth richest African city, housing around 5000 millionaires who live right next to the three to five million urban poor that make up over 50 percent of the population. Oxfam International talks about Elizabeth Dunge, a mother of two, who works in a slum, the site of downward spirals in Nairobi.

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Photo courtesy of Sam Tarling

    Dunge forages through the dump everyday, trying to find anything in the vast trash of expensive hotels and restaurants nearby, anything worth selling. Often, her hands rifle through dangerous waste like burning rubbish, syringes, and plastics, with almost no protection to poisonous fumes. The mother is not the only one looking through the dump — children of all ages join Dunge in their search for sustenance.

Dunge and people like her can be pulled out of the downward spiral with the taxes that are stashed in offshore tax havens. Many of the wealthiest in Nairobi use the tax haven strategy to keep themselves in comfort, while the vast poor majority looks on, unable to fend for itself.

    Wealthy individuals and companies, as showcased by the revelations of the Panama Papers, can store their tax money through completely legal methods, depriving the majority below the poverty line of benefits they are in need of, like education and healthcare. Oxfam’s Even It Up campaign aims to reform the tax system to attend to the rich and the rest in a fairer manner. Just 1.5 percent of the combined wealth of billionaires can provide for healthcare needs and make sure that every child goes to school.
    Through Even It Up, Oxfam is fighting to close the gap and help those like Dunge up the ladder, and in the end, even it up.

Written by Divya Murthy, Contributing Writer at Oxfam at SU

GROW is an Oxfam campaign which aims to fight hunger by empowering those who live in poverty (especially farmers) and urging their governments to invest in agriculture and to counteract climate change. GROW ties together climate change, agricultural poverty, agricultural yields, big business take-overs and a continuously shrinking agricultural land mass.

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    According to OIYPActionPartners video about Oxfam’s GROW campaign from 2012, 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry every night; 80% of this number includes people directly involved in the agricultural process: farmers, herdsmen and herdswomen, fishermen and fisherwomen. They all are a part of this broken system. How?

    It all began with big businesses taking over lands that were used to grow indigenous and traditional commodities. Winning over farmers with promises of increased land yield, more income, and the means to achieve all of this, they occupied the land with new, more cash-oriented crops. Initially, it seemed like everyone was benefiting.

   Soon, cultivation practices became more expensive, and small-scale farmers could not keep up. They had neither the fertilizers, pesticides, nor the storage to preserve their crops. Climate change burdened their worries further: unpredictable weather changes rendered them helpless against the forces of nature. Their crops could dry up, get flooded, or get blown away. What’s scarier is that there would be no one to help them.

Add to that gender discrimination (a large percentage of agriculture is tended to by women, who don’t get equal access to the benefits) and the global food wastage problem (1/3 of food produced, according to the video, goes unconsumed). The troubles faced by small farmers multiplies tenfold. So what is Oxfam’s GROW campaign doing to solve this?

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Photo courtesy: Damaris Castillo, Oxfam

   GROW is attempting to revamp the global food system inside out. According to Oxfam America, the campaign is facilitating a power transfer between big businesses and small farmers. As of the time the post was made, 795 million people around the world lived in hunger. GROW has the simple dream of changing that.

   On the corporate and business side, GROW puts pressure on these companies to reevaluate their ethical and business practices. The pressure is extended to the government as well to make sure it does more to help the little guy and works towards making better deals and trade agreements.

    The video focuses on a paradigm shift: moving towards thinking of, producing, and consuming towards more sustainable and ecological agricultural practices. GROW wants to increase quality, fair distribution, and better consumer practices. GROW tackles all of the problems above: accountability, sustainability, equity, and finally, equality.

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Photo courtesy: Jim Holmes, Oxfam

    An equal footing can be created when we give everyone the same brand of shoes and teach them how to use the pair that puts them on par with the rest of the world. GROW thinks cooperation, rather than a corporation. Oxfam GROW, at the end of the day, wants to put every person in the world to bed with food in their stomachs and smiles on their faces.

Written by Divya Murthy, Contributing Writer at Oxfam at SU

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