Press Releases

Irish political parties fail to “think globally, act locally”

Today, Oxfam Ireland launched their 2020 General Election Scorecard with a call to the Irish public to keep people and the planet at the forefront of their votes on the 8th February.

The scorecard indicates that Irish political parties are not thinking beyond national concerns on a number of key global issues, including climate financing for countries most affected by climate change, tax justice, and gender inequality.

Oxfam Ireland’s Manifesto outlined seven key policy asks for the next Government:

  1. Faster and fairer climate action to meet Ireland’s commitments to address the climate emergency and support poorer countries to cope with climate change
  2. Invest in our care system to help address gender inequality
  3. Support a fundamental reform of the global corporate tax system
  4. Support sustainability through developing the circular economy
  5. Pass legislation to ensure that companies adhere to human rights principles
  6. Increase Ireland’s development aid budget to 0.7% of national income by 2025
  7. Protect those seeking refuge and keep their families together

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“Ireland has a good track record on the international stage. However, many of the scores reflect a failure to see these global issues for what they are – crises that need to be addressed beyond national concerns. For example, it is disappointing that none of the party manifestos mention climate financing for poorer countries to cope with climate change.

“The climate emergency is one of the most pressing issues threatening our planet’s survival – it doesn’t discriminate, but it is hitting countries least responsible hardest. Communities we work with are losing their homes and livelihoods everyday through gradual, insidious climate changes that also bring extreme weather events, resulting in more floods and droughts, human displacement, and inevitably, climate refugees

"The corporate world has a huge impact on our planets sustainability. Right now, every decision made can affect vulnerable people and ecosystems. Our disposable consumerism, particularly of fashion items and textiles, is massively impacting our environment. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry – developing a circular economy is essential in tackling this, alongside education and awareness raising about the costs of throwaway fashion – on both our planet and the people working to meet the demands of the fast fashion industry

"In addition, it is impossible to develop long-term solutions to global poverty and inequality while the current scale of global corporate tax avoidance continues to drain financial resources both here at home and from low-income countries - resources which should be used to invest in essential services that could lift people out of poverty, such as health and education, and climate resilience strategies.

“All of these inequalities perpetuate and deepen poverty and suffering and stand in the way of people - particularly women and girls – from being able to progress and enjoy their basic rights. As our Time to Care report showed last week, Irish women are no exception to global gender inequality with gross underinvestment in our care systems – so it is encouraging to see more positive scores in relation to Ireland’s care economy.”

Clarken concluded:

“The general election offers opportunity. A new government can position Ireland as a political leader on key global issues dominating headlines and political discourse the world over. Tackling inequalities that cut across gender, our climate emergency and global tax systems, and sustainability as a planet, requires strong leadership and long-term action plans. Most importantly, it requires solidarity with the people and communities at the sharp end of the stark imbalances at play globally. “There is an onus on us all, to start thinking globally, while acting locally.”

ENDS

Contact Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165
Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

*Notes to Editor Our scorecard is based on a traffic light system: Green for Strong | Red for Weak

Further details about our Scorecard: Know their score: Where the parties stand on GE2020 issues

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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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