Oxfam aims to transform gender power relations and norms, through campaigning, programming, advocacy, research to facilitate women’s articulation of their own voice and agendas, thus reiterating commitment to right based development and putting women at the center of Oxfam’s work.
Gender justice is a human right; every woman and girl is entitled to live in dignity and in freedom, without any fear. Gender Justice is indispensable for development, poverty reduction, and is crucial to achieving human progress. Realizing it includes sharing of power and responsibility between women and men at home, in the workplace, and in the wider national and international communities.
During the past century, despite tremendous advancements in society, women are still not treated equally and are not afforded same opportunities. They are still at the peripheries of economic, political, social and cultural rights. Almost 70 percent of the world’s hungry are women. Women remain vastly under-represented in democratic institutions globally; women represent less than 10 percent of parliaments in a third of the world countries. Gender equality outcomes in aid effectiveness are less prioritized overall. In post disaster and conflict settings, women often suffer from lack of security and are excluded from decision making processes in economic, social, and political spheres.
Oxfam prioritizes gender justice and women’s rights, recognizing its centrality transforming the lives of women, families, and communities. We believe that strengthening women’s agency and space is an essential precursor to achieving gender equality as well as political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security. Gender Justice is necessary for the growth of economies, sustainable food security and in some cases political stability.
Oxfam recognizes that there is no single pathway towards ‘Gender Justice.’ Our ongoing women’s rights and gender justice initiatives, like GROW campaign, Behind the Brands, and Sisters on the Planet, put women’s economic rights at the center of global advocacy as well as regional and country planning and implementation. Our private sector initiatives advocate for women’s rights with pro- women markets approach and adopt women’s economic leadership in Latin American and sub Saharan countries.
Our humanitarian response in disaster and conflict countries design and adopt gender-responsive strategy based on our learning from Sudan, Afghanistan Ethiopia and other countries. In extractives global campaign and programs, we prioritize to achieve gender justice in consultation processes and invest in efforts to increase the capacity to holistically integrate the gender perspective in the Programs and measure the resulting impacts.
Our programmatic, policy and campaigns work prioritizes advancing gender justice to address the denial of women’s human rights through gender-sensitive strategies, plans, monitoring and evaluation frameworks. We work with allies like religious leaders, traditional leaders, men and boys to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. We make explicit investment in resources, human and financial, capacity development, institutional support, and accountability mechanisms to make significant contributions to women’s rights and gender justice.
Goals & priorities
Our goal is to contribute to policies and programs that achieve equality between women and men. To see the change in the world, we work towards shifts in four key areas—Women’s and men’s consciousness; Women’s access to and control over resources; Formal institutions, laws, policies, and structures; Informal cultural norms and exclusionary practices.
We intend to drive local change on gender by setting a higher bar for partners regarding women’s leadership and for the gender targets on our programming. Added to this, we want to invest in our staff to execute and use sophisticated gender analyses. Oxfam will strengthen capacities of women’s rights organizations (WROs), networks and movements that better enable women to influence duty bearers, traditional structures and systems to protect women’s rights, including their access to and control of power and resources.
Internally, gender awareness and gender intelligence will have clear linkages between staff development and gender, with clear expectations from all areas of the organization to include gender analysis, and effective integration of gender into programs, policy and campaigns. Staff capacity will include measurement and monitoring tools to assess the impact of gender investments. This will require increased rigor in gender research and use of it to further a gender justice agenda.
Achievements so far
Oxfam as an agency has demonstrated strong actions to solidify a foundation to build our gender justice strategy. In El Salvador, Oxfam joined with six other development and women’s rights organizations and developed a Program to Prevent Gender Based Violence. It engages men, women and young people as active agents in teaching and training programs, media and arts campaigns, and networks. The program raised awareness among politicians and public officials who became advocates for the prevention of gender-based violence and helped bring change to policies and practices.
Community finance programs
The Saving for Change program spearheaded in Mali, and now operating in Senegal, Cambodia, Guatemala and El Salvador, makes saving accessible to women through a system of self-governance and peer support. The program impact has been immense, resulting in over $9 million in money saved. As of July 2011, the Saving for Change Program had financially empowered over 500,000 women in over 24,000 groups within these countries.
Indigenous rights program
The Indigenous Rights and Interculturality Program in South America focused on working with women’s organizations to develop the women’s agenda by strengthening the leadership skills of women leaders. Our program provided opportunities for women to actively participate as representatives in national and international forums focused on advancing indigenous rights.
Oxfam’s Water Program in Ethiopia works to encourage women’s participation and leadership by connecting with women in the communities to solicit nominations to water users’ associations’ leadership positions. This ensured that women have a voice in the design and management of these water systems.
Gender pilot projects around Oxfam’s extractive industries work in Latin America, West Africa, and East Asia have successfully contributed to empowerment of women community leaders, providing legal services access and expanding the knowledge of women and men about their rights and in sensitizing the governments at national and regional level. Monitoring, evaluation and research have looked at gender issues in contextual and operational respects. Beyond strengthening partner capacity (as laid out above), investments have been made to increase staff capacity in gender analysis and integration.
Arms Trade Treaty
Oxfamled the briefing paper on US ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to prevent violence against women and children. In our “Behind the Brands” campaign accomplishments, the three targeted companies of Mars, Mondelez, and Nestlé have all signed onto the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles, which demonstrate the their commitment at the CEO level to the empowerment of women across their entire operations.
Sisters on the Planet
The ongoing “Sisters on the Planet” campaign advocates are continuing to ensure that women’s voices and stories are heard through advocacy to end the injustice of poverty.