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New Report: Ireland has fifth largest number of billionaires per capita in the world, mirroring global inequality trends

  • New report highlights sexist global economy that is hitting women and girls hardest
  • Women’s unpaid care work worth three times the value of global tech sector
  • Oxfam Ireland calls for meaningful engagement with Citizen Assembly to address unpaid care work

Ireland has the fifth largest number of billionaires in the world, relative to its population, Oxfam revealed today on the launch of its annual report on inequality ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The report – entitled Time to Care ­– highlights how global inequality is out of control with the world’s 2,153 billionaires owning more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population.

Women do most of the house work
Ruth, a mother of 7, spends all of her time taking care of her children. She would like to run her own small business one day but struggles to find time. Photo: Jed Regala/Oxfam

Ireland’s disproportionately high number of 17 billionaires – the vast majority of whom are men – shows that the country is mirroring this global trend when it comes to wealth inequality. Ireland ranks fifth in the world after Hong Kong, Cyprus, Switzerland and Singapore in terms of relative number of billionaires and has one of the highest levels of wealth inequality in the EU.

Oxfam’s new report sets out how 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 €5.00 a day ($5.50) and women in particular get a raw deal as the global economy fails to adequately reward those who carry out care work.

Globally, women do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work. 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. Countless more are paid poverty wages for care work.

Women and children
Care work often takes up a lot of time for women and girls – leaving little to no time for work, study or leisure. Governments must do more to reduce the amount of care work on the shoulders of women and girls. Photo: Jed Regala/Oxfam

In Ireland, women carry out 38 million hours of unpaid care work every week, contributing at least €24 billion to the economy every year – the equivalent of 12.3% of the entire annual Irish economy.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said: “Sexist economies are fuelling the inequality crisis — enabling a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people and particularly women and girls. Our upside-down economic system deepens inequality by chronically undervaluing care work – usually done by women and girls.

“They are among those who benefit least from today’s rigged system, carrying the burden of unpaid care work and often left with little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run. And yet, the global economy would not function without them. Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving.”

The pressure on carers, both unpaid and paid, is set to increase 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.

Unequal work
Ruth is the first to wake up, feeding the kids and getting them ready for school, and the last to sleep after she cleans the house and washes everyone’s clothes. Photo: Jed Regala/Oxfam

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 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.

Clarken continued: “Ireland is set to address the crucial issue of care, carers and those who receive care in the upcoming Citizen’s Assembly on gender inequality – an important moment to meaningfully engage – and resource – solutions to the disproportionate impact unpaid care work has on Irish women.

“We’re calling for changes to social and employment policies that support carers, enabling them to combine caring with employment and encouraging more men to participate in care work. For example, more paid shared parental leave or a reformed pension system that means women don’t miss out if they have to leave the work force to care for a loved one. We need high-quality care services, resourced by care workers that are paid a living wage.

“We’re also calling for all Government departments to produce an equality budgeting impact statement on a statutory basis. Ireland needs to comprehensively adopt gender budgeting approaches that systematically involve women’s organisations and civil society, to provide proper scrutiny of the impact of economic and taxation polices, as well as spending priorities, on women and girls.”

Time to Care: Let's #FightInequality

Contact Information

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

Fashion Relief 2020: BIGGER AND BETTER

Awaken your inner sustainable shopper by joining us at this year’s Fashion Relief! You can bag a bargain from your favourite brand, boutique, designer or celeb and the best bit is you’ll be raising vital funds for our work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Sustainable Fashion Event

2020 Dates

Sunday 1st March - Galmont Hotel Galway

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March - RDS Dublin

Don't miss your chance to:

  • Have fun!
  • Bag new, pre-loved designer and high-quality clothing from celebrities, Irish designers, top retailers, and more
  • Enjoy fashion shows, highlighting unique items from designers, boutiques and the stars
  • Get fashion advice and tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day
  • Grab yourself unbelievable bargains
  • Raise much-needed funds for people affected by poverty and disaster

 

Even if you’ve already got your ticket, there are lots of other ways to get involved!

Volunteer

Become part of the action by volunteering at the events! You could even staff your own stall, joining some of the stars who have generously pledged their clothes and time. You can volunteer for just one shift or an entire event!

Donate Your Pre-Loved Clothes and Accessories

  1. Bag up any pre-loved or new clothes, accessories or handbags – just make sure they’re in good condition and ready for the sale rail.
  2. Clearly label the bag/box FASHION RELIEF.
  3. Drop the bag/box to the nearest Oxfam Ireland shop. Find out where at oxfamireland.org/shops

 

Or you can organise a workplace clothing collection (men’s and women’s clothes and accessories) and Oxfam Ireland will pick it up directly from you - no hassle! Contact IRL-fashionrelief@oxfam.org.

More Info

Yemen: Still the world's worst humanitarian crisis

We’re only a little more than two weeks into 2020 but the bad news has come thick and fast. Devastating flooding in Jakarta. Catastrophic bushfires in Australia. Rising tensions between the US and Iran.

Every story is important. Every story deserves our attention.

But sometimes, the pace of breaking news is so fast that other, equally important stories be forgotten. Stories like the ongoing war in Yemen.

Woman lost her husband
Nuha* lost her husband in the war. She and her eight children are surviving on support from aid agencies. Photo: Husam Al-Sharmani/YHMA

As the war enters its fifth year, the situation for the Yemeni people remains dire. More than 12,000 civilians have been killed and some 4 million people have had to flee their homes due to the bombing and fighting. Around 24 million people – 80 percent of the population – need emergency aid, while 10 million people are only one step away from famine.

The country’s economy has been shattered. Countless homes, warehouses, farms and vital parts of civilian infrastructure have been destroyed. Basic services, like health or water supply, have collapsed. The flow of food – nearly 90 percent of which had to be imported even before the conflict started – has been massively disrupted by the warring parties.

Prices are continuing to rise, while many of the poorest people have lost their incomes. Parents cannot afford to buy enough food, leaving 2 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Around 350,000 of them are under the age of five.

Displaced hungry families
Oxfam is supporting displaced families in this camp by providing clean water, hygiene kits and cash grants. Photo: Oxfam

What has been described by the United Nations as the world’s ‘worst’ humanitarian crisis has also resulted in one of the worst outbreaks of cholera in recent history. Between April 2017 and December 2018, there were over 1.3 million suspected cases and 2,760 associated deaths.There was an increase in suspected cases last year, according to the World Health Organisation, with over 696,500 suspected cases and 913 associated deaths recorded between January and the end of September.

What Oxfam is Doing

Since July 2015, we have helped more than 3 million people in nine governorates of Yemen with clean water and sanitation, cash assistance and food vouchers. We’ve also provided clean water and sanitation to more than one million people, including in hard-to-reach areas of the country, by trucking in water, repairing water systems, delivering filters and jerrycans, as well as building latrines. This included trucking in water to more than 5,000 displaced people living in camps in Khamer and Al Qafla in Amran governorate last year.

One person flees their home every two seconds

Leaders must heed climate strikes and give vulnerable people the tools to survive.

People living in the poorest countries receive less than one cent per day – to protect themselves from the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, Oxfam estimates in a recent report. People are facing mounting human and financial costs from climate-related disasters they did least to create.

Cyclone survivors walk through floods
Survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique face water and electricity shortages while at risk of waterbourne diseases carried in contaminated flood water. Photo: Sergio Zimba/Oxfam

Climate adaptation pledges from wealthier nations are overstated and notoriously opaque.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s previous Executive Director, has said: "Wealthy governments are failing to live up to their promise to help poor nations adapt to the climate crisis. The poorest and most indebted nations on earth have done the least to cause this crisis but are being left to foot the bill. To avoid a downward spiral of ever more frequent humanitarian crises we need more funds for adaptation in the hands of the poorest communities. This should be genuine assistance – not loans that need to be paid back."

In the last year, the drought in the Horn of Africa has left more than 15 million people needing humanitarian aid. Repeated cyclones have left 2.6 million people in need of assistance. Substantial levels of climate finance provided on an annual basis would allow countries to reduce the impact of climate shocks by, for example, diversifying crops, conserving water or investing in better weather monitoring systems.

High levels of debt in countries like Somalia and Mozambique further exacerbate the impacts of climate shocks by squeezing the resources available for them to become more resilient to future climate shocks and to develop in a low-carbon way. Somalia’s debt stands at 75 per cent of its GDP and any climate finance provided in the form of loans risks pushing them deeper into debt. Oxfam estimates that around two-thirds of climate finance is provided in the form of loans that need to be repaid.

Oxfam is calling on wealthier nations to make ambitious emissions reductions and ensure more climate finance is directed towards adaptation in the least developed countries. This should include meeting their 2020 climate finance commitment and doubling their pledges to the Green Climate Fund compared with the previous round.

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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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