Our commitment to human rights

Orzala Ashraf, human rights campaigner and activist

We believe that respect for human rights will help lift people out of poverty and injustice, allow them to assert their dignity and guarantee sustainable development. When we speak about having a rights-based approach, this is what we mean.

We believe that everyone should have the right to:

A livelihood

Oxfam works at many levels with partners and communities in support of their right to a decent living.

We argue for better working conditions and better protection of the natural resources on which poor communities depend. We campaign for fairer trade rules at the global level, and for better policies at the national level. We work with partners and communities to implement programs that lead to self-sustaining livelihoods, with a strong focus on women.

Basic services

Being healthy and educated is an essential step along the route out of poverty.

Yet millions of people have no access to health services, schooling or safe water. They are constantly at risk from illnesses that are easily prevented or treated, or are unable to read and write, which means exclusion from their society. We campaign for more and better aid, with a focus on basic services. At the program level, Oxfam provides health training and clean water supplies, as well as funding schools and teacher training.

Be safe from harm

War and natural disasters cause untold suffering for millions of people around the world and keep them locked in poverty.

In disasters, people are at greater risk of violence, disease and abuse. We save lives in emergencies by providing shelter, clean water and sanitation. And by working with local partners, we help communities to rebuild and to better prepare themselves for future disasters.

Be heard

People living in poverty often have little influence over decisions that affect their lives.

We support partners and communities to understand their rights and to speak out about their needs and concerns. And, with others, we get people in power to listen and act.

Be treated as equal

People who are marginalized – because they are women, disabled or members of a religious or ethnic minority – are more likely to be poor.

We combat such discrimination, and work with these groups to ensure they have the means to enjoy equal access to jobs, essential services and influence.