The Future is Equal

Archives for March 7, 2017

8 reasons why Oxfam supports the International Women’s Strike on the 8th March

The past few decades have seen important gains in women’s rights, including increasing numbers of women participating in political processes, decreases in maternal deaths and increased access to education for girls. Despite this progress, women and girls still face systematic and pervasive gender inequality in every aspect of their lives.
On the 8th March 2017, International Women’s Day, Oxfam will lend its voice to thousands of women and women’s organizations around the world that are coming together to say enough. We are supporting the International Women’s Strike, taking place in more than 40 countries in the world. These are just some of the reasons why:

1) Violence against women and girls is a global crisis

More than a billion women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – that’s one in three women. Women and girls who face discrimination because of their race, disability, gender identity and sexuality and poverty, are impacted most.

2) Economic inequality affects more women than men

Women continue to be marginalized in the economy, overrepresented in the lowest-paid most insecure jobs. At the current rate of progress, it will take 170 years for women and men to be employed at the same rates, paid the same for equal work, and have the same levels of seniority.  Globally, women earn 23% less than men. In New Zealand, there is still a significant gap. Here, women earn 13% less than men.
Issues such as tax dodging by wealthy individuals and corporations mean governments have less money to spend on the essential public services that poor women need.

3) Women do far more than their share of unpaid care work

Worldwide, women are still seen as primarily responsible for domestic work and taking care of children and elderly. This work is worth $10 trillion to the global economy each year, equivalent to over an eighth of the world’s entire GDP, and more than the GDPs of India, Japan and Brazil combined.
Women’s disproportionate responsibility for this work squeezes the amount of time that they have to go to school, earn a living and rest and recuperate.

4) Women’s rights to own land are under attack

Women, particularly indigenous women, are seeing their land rights eroded. Women are generally responsible for feeding their families but they are routinely denied access to land and incomes to buy food. Lack of access to land leaves women vulnerable and means when food is limited women go hungry first. 60% of the world’s hungry are women.

5) Women and girls are disproportionately affected by conflict

Conflicts threaten devastating consequences for everyone – but women and girls face particular impacts. In general, women and girls have access to fewer resources to protect and sustain themselves, are more often the deliberate target of gender-based violence. Although women have led and supported peace and recovery efforts in communities across the world, they remain largely excluded from political processes essential for peace and security.

6) Women are underrepresented in decision-making positions

In 2016, only 22% of all national parliamentarians were female, a slow rise from 11.3% in 1995. Furthermore, women often work in informal sectors that are harder to organize, face restrictions that mean their voices are not heard in labor movements, and are hampered by social norms that view participation in politics and public life as unsuitable roles for women.

7) Attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights

Rising fundamentalisms have seen increased attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly in women’s access to safe and legal abortion.
Among the health and economic impacts of unplanned or frequent pregnancies, lack of access to family planning services increases women’s unpaid care work and reduces their opportunities to find decent, well-paid jobs, as they shoulder the greater responsibility for taking care of children.

8) A different future is possible

Women coming together have fought for their rights and made huge progress on some of the issues they face.
Sadly, those gains are often fragile and the backlash against women stepping out of traditional roles and challenging the ideas societies hold about them has resulted in violence and the deaths of many courageous women’s rights activists, such as
Berta Cáceres who was brutally murdered last year. In their memory, and for all women and girls, both current and future generations, Oxfam offers our solidarity, our support and our pledge to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with women fighting for a better world.
The potential for lasting change lies in the hands of millions of women currently living in poverty. That’s why we put women’s rights at the heart of everything we do.

The other side of Trump’s travel ban

At the Huth camp for Yemenis forced to flee their homes, an Oxfam water tank, standing in the distance, provides more than 220 households with clean drinking water. Photo: Mohammed Al-Mekhlafi/Oxfam

Here’s why people are fleeing the “banned” countries, and how the Executive Order has affected their lives.

Last month, President Trump issued an Executive Order that bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, imposes bans on refugees on the basis of their religion, and blocks citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Although the Executive Order was temporarily suspended by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, it is not permanently abolished, and the administration plans to release yet another equally restrictive Executive Order.  In the midst of these ongoing legal battles, many refugees who have already gone through the lengthy security vetting process and been approved for resettlement in the US are now living in limbo.
Oxfam staff work alongside women, men, and children from conflict zones, including five of the countries listed in the executive order, which are facing some of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. The travel ban is already having an impact on the lives of those fleeing violence. Families have been separated, people have been left stranded, and their lives have been put in danger.
So why are people fleeing these countries in the first place and what has it been like to be “banned” from entering the US? Here are some of the latest reported stories from real people, and how the ban has impacted their lives.


Somalia is struggling with one of the world’s largest displacement crises. It has faced two decades of conflict, made worse by drought, which has brought untold challenges for the country’s most vulnerable people, including 363,000 children under 5 who are acutely malnourished. The maternal mortality rate in Somalia is among the highest in the world: 732 maternal death per 100,000 live births, more than 26 times higher than the US rate.
Oxfam has been working to help people thrive and survive in the midst of crisis by creating wider access to sustainable ways of earning a living, improving basic service delivery, and granting access to humanitarian aid.
One million Somali refugees have fled to neighboring countries, and a million remain displaced within Somalia. The conflict in nearby Yemen has further complicated this crisis, resulting in thousands of people from Somalia and Yemen now fleeing into Somalia.

This is the story of Hashi, a 24-year-old Somali refugee who has not seen her husband since 2014, when they fled the war in Somalia to an Ethiopian refugee camp. After initially getting approved to come to the US, the travel ban has left their family in limbo.

Travel ban prolongs Somali refugee family’s separation > 


The crisis in Yemen has produced the greatest number of people needing emergency aid in any country in the world. More than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the bombing and fighting.
Oxfam has been in Yemen for more than 30 years, working to improve the water and sanitation services, and livelihoods of thousands of people living in poverty. Our focus is on women’s rights, health care, disaster preparedness, and helping people have a say in the decisions that affect them.
Ebrahim Almurisi was an oral surgeon in Yemen, but decided to get his family out of the country when the civil war there became too dangerous. When their plane landed in Washington, D.C., they were ordered to get back on a plane and out of the country. “I was begging them to leave us here because of the war in Yemen,” he said.


At the Al Salaam camp for displaced people in Sudan’s North Darfur State, family members make regular trips to tap stands like this to collect water for all their household needs—from cooking to washing and drinking. Access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education are all essential in preventing the spread of waterborne diseases in crowded camp conditions. Photo: Elizabeth Stevens/Oxfam

The conflict in Sudan between the government and rebel groups has killed untold numbers of people and caused massive displacement.
Together with our partners in Sudan, Oxfam is addressing immediate public health needs, supporting women, installing wells and constructing latrines, providing cash grants, and distributing relief materials.


When ISIS occupied their village back in 2014, many Iraqis fled to nearby Sharuja Polaq in the Kirkuk district of Iraq. The small community has welcomed 170 displaced families. Oxfam has been helping both the hosts and the newcomers with access to clean water. Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam
More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced across the country since the start of 2014 and nearly 220,000 are refugees in other countries.
Oxfam is providing life-saving assistance to displaced people in Iraq through cash or vouchers to help them meet critical needs. We are also rehabilitating water infrastructure, providing sanitation facilities and supporting hygiene promotion activities, providing livelihood opportunities for displaced people and returnees, which helps them to access income while displaced or recently returned.


Hussein Okla, 20, fills a water tank with water supplied by Oxfam at an informal settlement for Syrian refugees near the town of Zahle in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam
Syria’s conflict has led to one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the century. Over half of the country’s population has fled: 5 million people have sought refuge in the region and beyond, and 6.3 million people are internally displaced, in most cases multiple times.
Oxfam reached 1.12 million Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon with clean drinking water or cash and relief supplies. We are also helping families get the information they need about their rights, connecting them to services such as legal aid, as well as working on sanitation.