Discrimination and injustice are major causes of poverty worldwide. And ensuring women and men benefit equally from our work is a vital part of what we do.
Why equality for women?
You’re more likely to be poor if you’re a woman. And as a woman – according to research – you’re likely to be doing most of the work. But this discrimination does not start there – it actually starts much earlier. Girls are too often denied access to education, health and nutrition from birth. This has to change.
The right to gender equality underpins all Oxfam’s work across the world.
Globally, the facts show that women are getting the rawest deal:
- Education – Two-thirds of all children denied school are girls.
- Work – Women earn only ten per cent of the world’s income, yet work two-thirds of the world’s working hours.
- Welfare – Domestic violence is the single biggest cause of injury and death to women worldwide.
- Democracy – Women hold only 14 per cent of the world’s governmental seats.
Poverty and power
Poverty is about lacking opportunities and power, as well as having problems with things like making a decent living. The issues can be connected, of course, but traditional attitudes which limit women’s say over what happens in their lives – and in their wider communities – mean they generally suffer poverty most.
It’s for these reasons that Oxfam involves ‘gender issues’ in every aspect of its work – and is careful to make sure that women and men benefit equally from it.
Communities are spearheading this movement by making their views known and demanding justice. We’re aware that there is no easy way of removing gender discrimination – it is always context specific. This diversity of views is respected and strengthens Oxfam’s work in this area.
Addressing gender discrimination
Oxfam helps women:
- Campaign for legal reform in countries with laws that disadvantage women.
- Acquire functional literacy skills so they can work.
- Raise the income of some of the world’s poorest families through community finance programs targeted at women.
- Strengthen their voice in their communities, so they can become leaders and spokespeople.
- Build peace in areas struggling with conflict.
- Understand their human rights, so they will not accept violence as their due.
In all of these endeavors, Oxfam not only equips women to contribute more to their communities, but also helps shape societies that welcome their contributions.
Ending violence against women
At Oxfam, we understand violence against women (VAW) as a violation of women’s rights, a barrier to women’s active citizenship, and hence, a fundamental constraint to poverty alleviation. Oxfam organizes with and offers support to women’s organizations and others celebrating the gains made on VAW, and pushing hard for promises yet to be fulfilled.
Read our 16 Days wrap-up where we ask: What will it take to end violence against women and girls?
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