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World’s 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa, new Oxfam report reveals

The 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all 325 million women in Africa, Oxfam revealed today ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos. A new report illustrates how inequality continues to be at crisis levels with wealth valued over work and the contribution of women under-rewarded.

The report – entitled Time to Care – sets out how the global economy fails to adequately reward those who carry out care work, a situation which exacerbates the gap between rich and poor. Extreme inequality is trapping millions of people in poverty around the world – although estimates of the wealth of the world’s poorest have been revised upwards this year, half the world’s population continue to live on less than £4.20-a-day (€5.00/$5.50) and women in particular get a raw deal.

Across the world, women and girls are putting in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day, such as looking after children and the elderly, which amounts to a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year – more than three times the size of the global tech industry.

Women, especially those living in poverty, do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work. 42 per cent of women are outside the paid workforce because of unpaid care responsibilities compared to just six per cent of men. Countless more are paid poverty wages for care work.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said: “When 22 men have more wealth than all the women in Africa combined, it’s clear that our economy is sexist.

“One way that our upside-down economic system deepens inequality is by chronically undervaluing care work – usually done by women, who are often left little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and are therefore trapped in poverty.

“If world leaders meeting this week are serious about reducing poverty and inequality, they urgently need to invest in care and other public services that make life easier for those with care responsibilities, and tackle discrimination holding back women and girls.”

Oxfam’s report highlights how care work is radically under-valued and taken for granted by governments and business. It is often treated as non-work, with spending on care viewed as a cost rather than an investment, leading to care being rendered invisible in measures of economic progress and policy agendas.

The pressure on carers, both unpaid and paid, is set to grow in the coming decade as the global population grows and ages. An estimated 2.3 billion people will be in need of care by 2030, an increase of 200 million since 2015.

The report also looks at governments’ role in fueling the inequality crisis, massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and underfunding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls’ workload.

Investments in water and sanitation, electricity, childcare and public healthcare could free up women’s time and improve their quality of life. Oxfam research has shown that providing access to an improved water source could save African women significant time, for example in parts of Zimbabwe up to four hours of work a day, or two months a year.

Oxfam is urging governments to create fairer fiscal systems and crack down on tax loopholes to raise the revenue needed to invest in national care systems and public services that meet everyone’s needs, without relying on unpaid and underpaid work by women.

Getting the richest one per cent to pay just 0.5 per cent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years could raise enough money to create 117 million jobs, including 79 million in education, health and social care which would help close the current care gap.

ENDS

For a copy of the full report, summary, methodology or to arrange an interview, please contact Phillip Graham at phillip.graham@oxfam.orgor +44 (0) 7841 102535.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

  • Full report available on request.
  • The report, methodology document explaining how Oxfam calculated the figures, and the data set is available on request.
  • The combined wealth figure of the 22 richest men in the world takes the wealth of the richest male billionaires from the Forbes’ 2019 Billionaires List and compares to the total wealth of all African women aged 20 and over, in line with Credit Suisse's dataset. The calculation is for all women, rich and poor, not just the poorest 50 per cent.
  • Oxfam’s calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data. In 2018, Oxfam calculated that 26 people had the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. In 2019 this figure is 162. The difference in numbers is mainly due to improved Credit Suisse estimates which suggest that wealth held by the bottom 50 per cent is higher than previously thought. Using these new estimates, the revised figure for last year is therefore not 26 but 155. Billionaire wealth also fell in the period covered by Oxfam’s calculations but has since significantly recovered, Bloomberg have just shown how 500 people last year got over a trillion dollars richer. While estimates of overall wealth and the wealth share of the bottom 50 per cent fluctuate from one year to the next, the overall picture of incredible levels of wealth inequality remains shockingly high
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting the UK African Investment Summit in London today (Monday, 20 January 2020). Oxfam is calling for meaningful engagement during and after the summit with African and UK civil society, particularly women’s rights organisations, as such inputs are vital in designing investment that would create good quality, well paid jobs for women. It’s vital that companies investing in the region pay their fair share of taxes and not use tax havens as a conduit for their African investments, so that African governments can invest in services and national care systems which reduce the unpaid care burden for women.
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US-Iran conflict restricting aid work in Iraq - Oxfam

Oxfam’s humanitarian work in Iraq is restricted due to heightened security concerns, road checkpoints and travel difficulties, following Iranian missile attacks on US military bases in Iraq overnight in retaliation for the US killing of the Iranian General Suleimani.

Oxfam Iraq Country Director Andres Gonzalez Rodriguez said: “We have had to suspend work in three locations where we were delivering cash aid to people in need of help. If we have to continue the suspension for a few weeks more, 100,000 of the most vulnerable people will be affected.

“Oxfam is one of the few international agencies working in hard-to-reach areas affected by the latest conflict. As far as possible, we will try to keep our humanitarian work going with our partners around the country. However, we have had to relocate some staff and we are keeping all our staff, partners and work under close observation due to the heightened security concerns.”

Oxfam runs 26 humanitarian and development programmes in five governorates in Iraq, specialising in water and sanitation, emergency food, cash and gender programmes and protection work. Oxfam and its partners reach over a million people in Iraq with this aid.

Oxfam has closed its offices, including in Irbil, and asked staff to work from their homes and avoid travel.

Gonzalez Rodriguez added: “The Oxfam office in Irbil is just three kilometres away from where the missile hit the airport. Staff heard the rockets overhead and some saw the impact. Staff in our Ramadi office saw the missile passing over Ramadi city before it hit the Ain al-Asad military base.

“All parties to this conflict are obliged to work hard to de-escalate the crisis and to build peace in order to spare the Middle East region further humanitarian suffering. People who have already suffered decades of war and deprivation will bear the brunt of further conflict and cannot endure another blow. The impacts of another regional conflict on tens of millions of civilians in the Middle East and beyond will be catastrophic and push an over-burdened humanitarian system to breaking point.”

In the Middle East and North Africa over 18 million people have already been forced from their homes due to violence and persecution – over a quarter of all the displaced people in the world. Iran hosts nearly a million refugees from Afghanistan – a war which began nearly two decades ago and shows little sign of abating.

Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America Humanitarian Policy Lead said: “We urge the US, Iran and all parties across the region to show restraint, to respect humanitarian law and allow unfettered humanitarian access to those in need, regardless of perceived affiliations. Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail and the work of de-escalation to begin.

“International law imposes a clear obligation on states to protect the lives and safety of civilians. The international community must speak up boldly in defence of these fundamental principles and remind our leaders that it is their responsibility to prevent further human suffering. We hope that in these tense days, leaders recognise that saving lives is more important than saving face.”

ENDS

CONTACT:

Oxfam spokespeople are available for interview.

For interviews or for more information, please contact: Alice Dawson-Lyons | +353 (0) 83 198 1869 | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

Note to editor:

• Oxfam supports 1,042,086 persons of the most vulnerable people living in Iraq, working together with 13 local partner organisations to provide cash and income generation support as well as water, sanitation and protection services. We also work with partners on Women’s Rights, Water rehabilitation, Protection, and Advocacy.

• Oxfam has 26 programmes in five governorates: Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Anbar, and Salahaddin governorates.

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Last minute present shopping? Make it the gift of light

Light up Christmas this Year with Oxfam’s Ethical Gift Card Range

While the country sparkles in the warm glow of festive lights, Oxfam are asking people to consider their Alternative Gift Card Range which includes the gift of light.

With shorter daylight hours, we rely on electric lights more and more, in our homes, on our streets. Yet people across the world are living in situations where the infrastructure for lighting no longer exists, or in refugee camps where electric lighting is not supplied/a pipedream.

Oluchi Porter, Humanitarian Project Support Officer said:

 “The gift of a solar lamp might seem small or insignificant to us, but it has huge impact in the day to day lives of people we work with. Having a reliable light source allows children to study, and most importantly, play after the sun goes down. It also helps mothers to care for their young children during the night as well as offering security when having to leave their dwelling after dark.”

“A common report we hear from women currently living in refugee camps is feeling unsafe when taking a trip to the bathroom at night due to the absence of street lighting. Having a solar lamp reduces some of this fear as it lightens up dark pathways.”

Sarah, a mother of four children living on Nyoat island in South Sudan, recently received a Little Sun Solar Lamp as part of an emergency kit distributed by Oxfam:

“The most important item I have received is the lamp because I have a small child who needs to be taken care of in the night most especially when changing her bed, previously I would light the fire then change her beddings but with this solar lamp I will just press the button and do it easily"

This gift is available as a printed card in Oxfam’s shops or as a beautifully designed ecard (plastic free!) which can be purchased online as a last-minute gift right up until Christmas morning or beyond!

For people facing conflict or disaster, an act of solidarity and support means a lot, and goes a long way. That is exactly what this gift can provide. It might not twinkle, but it will last long after our Christmas lights are packed up for another year.

ENDS

Contact: Alice Dawson-Lyons, Oxfam Ireland – alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to the Editor:

The money raised through the purchase of a solar lamp gift supports Oxfam’s vital humanitarian work through their Saving Lives projects by providing essential items, such as solar powered lamps, to families who have been forcibly displaced due to war, natural disaster or conflict. You can view the full Alternative Gift Card range here: www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped

New to the Oxfam Alternative Gift Card Range

A WEE Gift For You (€15 / £13): With this gift, Oxfam can work with communities in some of the world’s harshest environments – to dig wells and install toilets, taps and water pumps – contributing towards improving the quality of life in these communities. The money raised by this gift will go into Oxfam’s Water for All fund supporting vital humanitarian work. In Bangladesh, Oxfam has provided Rohingya refugees with clean drinking water, emergency toilets, water pumps and food rations. Abdul* (10) home in Balukhali Camp, Southern Bangladesh:” We used to go far away around the bushes to the toilet. At night I went with my friends, but I was scared. Now we have a clean toilet next to our house and I’m not scared anymore.”

There Is No Planet B! (€20 / £18): Climate change/Global Warming is one of the biggest challenges facing people in Ethiopia. The money raised from your gift card can help small scale farmers survive ever-worsening droughts and floods, thus safeguarding their ability to provide and care for their families. Oxfam has been helping farmers, previously reliant on maize, to grow vegetables in small kitchen gardens. They use some of their produce to feed their families and can earn income by selling the rest. Patouma, an Ethiopian farmer working with Oxfam: “Now, with this vegetable farming, I am able to sell vegetables and with the proceeds I can buy some food to feed my children. I am able to feed my children every day and which I wasn’t able to do before. I can even buy school textbooks and pencils. This kind of farming has really helped my family."

 

Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Oxfam’s Alternative Gift Card Range

1. Helping people to overcome income inequality

Oxfam Ireland’s work is focussed on providing families with sustainable, resilient pathways out of poverty. When you buy a gift such as a cowgoat or honeybees, you’re helping people to develop a sustainable way of living and lift their communities out of severe poverty in Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia. The animals are well looked after, and the aspiring farmers are offered support and training to give their ventures the best chance at success.

2. Improving access to education

Oxfam Ireland are working with schools and families around the world to give children, especially the next generation of girls, a quality education. Oxfam’s approach is wide-ranging that help people access vital services like education and healthcare.

3. Promoting gender equality

Educate and empower the next generation of women’s rights activists with the Educate a Girl card. Women are supported with opportunities to generate sustainable livelihoods, and aspiring activists are trained in effective ways of campaigning for gender equality and the eradication of violence against women.

4. Go plastic free

Christmas Day can easily lead to an overload of waste, so Oxfam have made sure that your gift comes in organic, compostable and recyclable packaging and courier bags. Or even better: select a digital (PDF) card which you can download and send to be completely waste-free.

5. Spreading good vibes and generosity

By gifting a gift card like Feed 6 Families, you can enjoy your festive meal, with the knowledge that you’ve helped a family in need purchase food during a hard time. Cards like this help to provide vouchers for families, to purchase necessary food in shops, helping to support local trade.

Little Sun Solar Lamp. Photo: Michael Tsegaye
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Oxfam Ireland: A year in review

 

Last year, Oxfam Ireland reached 8.05 million people across 10 countries, and 63,000 people directly benefiited from our long-term development programmes in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, up from 52,000 the previous year. See the impact for yourself!

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A greener planet from blue jeans – Oxfam and Titanic Denim launch stylish range of sustainable bags

Limited edition recycled denim bags are the perfect ‘Christmas with a conscience’ gift

Oxfam today launched an exciting new collaboration with sustainable fashion brand Titanic Denim as part of the charity’s ongoing campaign to tackle throwaway fashion and the devastating impact it is having on people and the planet.

The new partnership will see a limited edition range of stylish recycled denim bags designed by Titanic Denim in two sizes and available at special introductory prices. The medium-sized ‘City Bag’ (€35.00/£30.00) is perfect for shopping; while the smaller iPad-size cross-body bag (€25.00/£20.00) is ideal for everyday essentials or as an eye-catching fashion accessory.

Michael McIlwaine, Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Retail, said: “We are really excited to be working with Marie Nancarrow of Titanic Denim, who has worked alongside stylists to the stars including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Def Leppard, Twenty One Pilots, Robbie Williams and Sting. The new collaboration is about showing how we can all do more to reuse, repurpose and recycle and by being sustainable help tackle climate change. Together with Titanic Denim we are making a greener planet from blue jeans.”

The hand-crafted bags, suitable for all ages, breathe new life into old denim and are finished off with shabby chic shirt linings and colourful handles made from end-of-line seatbelts. Each designer bag is totally unique, made with love and comes stamped with a seal of sustainability in the form of the Titanic Denim logo and Oxfam’s ‘4 Good’ branding.

The bags are available in selected Oxfam stores in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Malahide and Sligo.

Marie Nancarrow, designer and founder of Titanic Denim, said: “It has been amazing to work in partnership with Oxfam on this project because we are jointly passionate about reducing the environmental impact of waste going to landfill here in Ireland.

“Fast fashion and a throw-away clothing culture makes it the second ‘dirtiest’ industry next to oil. Our new collection shows it doesn’t have to be that way. By repairing and repurposing old fabrics and discarded items not only can we make something new, desirable and truly unique but also an important contribution to protecting the planet.

“I hope Oxfam’s customers will love these bags just as much as Titanic Denim has enjoyed making them and not just for the good they do but as a must-have fashion accessory in their own right. The bags are ethical, practical and stylish and make the perfect ‘Christmas with a conscience’ gift for those who want to give something different to a loved one.”

Michael McIlwaine added: “Throwaway fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people and it’s not sustainable. Those who are most affected by climate change have done the least to contribute to this existential threat. That’s why it is significant we are launching this collaboration today, at a key time for our planet while world leaders meet at COP 25 and the UN Climate Change Conference, is still in session.

“Across our programmes, Oxfam is tackling the impact of the climate crisis. We work with communities to prepare for unpredictable weather and disasters as a result of climate change and are there to help when the worst does happen, from drought to floods and earthquakes.”

Oxfam works across many areas of fashion: collaborating with big brands to recycle and reuse stock; joining forces with fashion houses to improve supply chain conditions; garment workers’ rights; and campaigning on climate change.

ENDS

Photos of the Titanic Denim bags are available for download via https://oxfam.box.com/v/TitanicDenimBagsPix

For interviews, images or more information, please get in touch:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 00 353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

NI:        Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The Titanic bags will be available in selected Oxfam stores at the following locations:

  • Belfast: Oxfam Botanic, 88 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1JR. Tel: 028 90 315413
  • Cork: CastleCourt 4Good, Unit 10, Castle Court, Belfast, BT1 1DD. Tel: 028 9023 1157. Oxfam Cork 10 Cook Street, Cork, Co. Cork T12 T611. Tel: 021 427 5490.
  • Dublin: Oxfam George's Street, Unit2, Wicklow House, South Great George's Street, Dublin 2, D02 TX84. Tel: 01 478 0777. Oxfam Talbot Street, 6 Talbot Street, North City, Dublin 1, D01 VR62. Tel: 01 8746835.
  • Galway: Oxfam Galway, Abbeygate House, 9 Lower Abbeygate Street, Co. Galway, H91 W1XA. Tel: 091 561 491.
  • Kilkenny: Oxfam Kilkenny, 48 High Street, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny, R95 V4P8. Tel: 056 776 2085.
  • Malahide: Oxfam Malahide, 6 Church Road, Malahide, Co. Dublin, K36 RH22. Tel: 01 845 4319.
  • Sligo: Oxfam Sligo, 17 Grattan Street, Sligo, Co. Sligo, F91 PD63. Tel: 071 913 8913.

 

  • Belfast-woman Marie Nancarrow has been a model and fashion designer, working with designer Paul Costello, and alongside stylists for Katy Perry, Robbie Williams and Sting. Marie is the founder and designer of the environmentally-friendly, sustainable fashion brand Titanic Denim, which was launched in 2015. All of its items use recycled, second hand denim, jeans and fabrics. All designs are one-offs and hand-made right in the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. Whether it’s designer jeans, jackets, handbags, a pooch-pouch, or a guitar case, each piece is 100% unique. Titanic Denim breathes new life, character and attitude into old jeans, customising and transforming them into a wearable piece of art. Titanic Denim not only resuscitates old jeans, it also gives birth to new products through old denim.
  • The Titanic Denim bags are designed and stitched by the Titanic Denim team in a workshop in Oxfam’s distribution centre.
  • Oxfam has 47 shops across the island of Ireland, selling high-quality pre-loved clothes, accessories, handbags, shoes and more. To find your nearest Oxfam shop, visit www.oxfamireland.org/shops
  • Irish people dump 225,000 tonnes of clothing every year. Source: http://re-dress.ie/when-fashion-is-finished-garment-end-of-life-solutions/
  • The textile industry is the world’s second largest polluter after the oil industry.
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