The Future is Equal

Best of: Winnie Byanyima, part two

Winnie Byanyima during her recent visit to Nigeria – a nation on the brink of famine. Photo: Tom Saater/Oxfam

The passionate and wise Winnie Byanyima, head of Oxfam International, came to visit New Zealand for the first time last week.

She spoke on everything from the huge number of displaced people around the world, the broken economic system and dangerous political power, to the devastating effects of the sale of arms, the unprecedented four famines across Africa and in Yemen, and the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord and climate change.

Below is part two of the top five things Winnie Byanyima said while she was here in NZ.

On the broken economic system and dangerous political power

“You can see that rich companies have been pushing wages down. In the last 30 years wages have not risen globally, but they increase their reward at the top. They pay peanuts to their suppliers, and then the shareholders take more and more of the profits out of the companies… this kind of business model that maximises for shareholders and cheats the worker, cheats the producer, cheats the consumer and destroys the environment is what we must change.”

– Interview with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand

“We’re not against globalisation, but it has to be a globalisation that benefits all; workers, producers, the planet, communities. We can’t have globalisation that’s based on rewarding just the owners of capital. That’s a wrong and unjust globalisation.”

– Interview with Corin Dann, TVNZ’s Q+A.

“Poverty is a political problem. Poverty and injustice are rooted in powerlessness – and we tackle power. We tackle governments. We tackle companies. We ask them to do justice to ordinary people. There is no way we are going to end poverty without being political in that sense… we speak truth to power.”

– Interview with Corin Dann, TVNZ’s Q+A.

“All of us need to work as citizens to claim back power. Power has been taken by a few economic elites working in collusion with a few political elites. It’s a global problem.”

– Interview with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand

On the four famines

“Famine is a failure because you can see it coming and you can stop it if you take the right actions. The responsibility first and foremost lies with the governments… it’s also a failure of the international community. We have a common humanity, we have commitments, we have made a law that we will respond, we will not let people die… when people die it diminishes my humanity, even though it’s another part of the world.”

– An Evening with Winnie Byanyima, Q Theatre event.

Missed part one?