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Oxfam and women

Women Unlimited.
Poverty Undone.

Oxfam puts women at the heart of everything we do. Not just because it's right, but because it's the best way to end poverty.

Why is Oxfam focussing on women?

Oxfam is working to improve women's equality because if you're a woman, you're more likely to live in poverty. Tackling this will help end poverty for everyone.

Around the world, Oxfam has seen how protecting women from violence, giving women the means to improve their livelihoods and supporting their participation in decision-making, benefits them, their families and the communities where they live.

Bringing equality for women is not only beneficial to women, but to their families and wider community. Everyone stands to benefit.

We will not succeed in ending global poverty unless women are equal.

Why is Oxfam talking about women now?

Oxfam has supported women for a long time, but we are putting women front and centre of our work because only by addressing women's inequality will we be able to end poverty.
While there has been movement, progress has been too slow. On current rates it will take 118 years to close the gender pay gap around the world. Progress in different parts of the world is also being threatened by rising extremism, conflict and the impact of the economic crisis.

A global agreement on women's basic human rights signed 20 years ago in Beijing is yet to be implemented. Had it been, the discrimination and poverty faced by women and girls today would be much reduced.

World leaders set a new global goal in 2015 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. This offers a chance to make up for the missed opportunities of the past two decades, we need to stand together and show that we won't live with poverty.

What evidence is there that women are worst affected by poverty?

While there have been steps in addressing women's inequality, progress is too slow. Right now, women around the world own fewer assets than men and spend more hours working yet earn less money. Two thirds of illiterate adults are women - a proportion that has remained unchanged for two decades. One in three women suffers from sexual or physical violence, mostly at home. At the same time, women have a lower legal status than men in 128 countries so it is hard for many to get justice.

  • Globally, women spend an average 2.5 times the amount of time on unpaid care work than men do (UN)
  • Women in Sub-Saharan Africa spend 5 billion hours a year collecting water (UNICEF)
  • Globally, the gender pay gap is 24 per cent (UN)
  • At the current rate, it will take 118 years to close the gender pay gap around the world (World Economic Forum)
  • In the UK, men on average earn 13.9 per cent more than women (Workplace Gender Equality Agency).
  • Nearly two thirds of illiterate adults are women, a proportion that has remained unchanged for two decades (UN)

What is Oxfam doing to help women?

Oxfam is supporting more than a million women and girls around the world, challenging attitudes and behaviour, ending violence against women, improving livelihoods and increasing women's participation in decision-making - whether in community groups or at the national stage.

From our work, we have seen how greater opportunity not only benefits the lives of women, but ends up benefiting their families and their communities, either through bringing in more income, contributing to better decision-making, freeing people from restrictive traditional roles and living without fear of experiencing violence.

Our work on violence

One in three women experience violence - the majority of them at home. But violence also happens in public and is increasingly happening to women caught up in conflict or having been displaced. Right now, Oxfam is working in 40 countries to make this illegal and to help get justice for women.

In Zambia, Oxfam is working with men and boys to challenge the belief that hitting a woman earns them respect. Men and boys discuss the issues and commit to champion women in their communities, as well as challenge any violence that they see. Oxfam is also working with women, their partners, traditional faith leaders and the media to show that violence against women needs to stop so that women can live without fear, claim their rights and grow in confidence.

In South Sudan, women refugees have not only fled their homes because of violent conflict, but are at risk of sexual violence. In Malakal, a camp in South Sudan, Oxfam has not only provided clean water and toilets, but provided solar lights to 6,000 families so women feel safer while using the wash facilities at night. Water points are also located in less isolated areas so that women are safer from attack.

  • One in three women experience violence, the most of which takes place at home (UN)
  • At least 46 countries have no laws protecting women from domestic violence (IMF)
  • More than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation in countries in Africa and Western Asia (UN)

Our work on women's livelihoods

Women in Panjar in Bangladesh have always raised cows but have been unable to sell the milk because it's considered inappropriate for women to go to market. Those who do are unlikely to get a fair price. We helped set up a women-run dairy co-operative, which has provided more cows and helps women pool their resources so they can sell their milk in bulk. Oxfam's local team also set up a link with a national dairy company, which provides training and gives the dairy farmers a fair price for milk. As the women are earning more, they are able to buy food for their families, send their children to school and make their homes stronger against the threat of floods.

  • In 18 countries, husbands can prevent their wives from working (IMF)
  • 150 million more people would escape hunger if women farmers had the same access to tools and equipment as men (FAO)

Our work on increasing women's participation

Traditional values mean that many women in rural areas of Nepal rarely leave their home. Oxfam has been running classes for women so they can learn about their rights in relation to issues like lack of freedom, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. These discussion groups give women the confidence to play a more active role in the community, giving them the confidence to fight for their rights, start earning money and inspire their daughters to do the same.

  • Worldwide, only about one in five parliamentary seats are held by women, an in increase from one in eight in 1990 (UN)
  • In developing countries, about one in three married women is excluded from decision-making about major household purchases (UN)

"We believe that every girl should be able to dream as big as every boy. That every woman has the right to make a fair living for herself and her family. That nobody deserves to be held back by violence, abuse or discrimination."

If you agree please stand with us and make your pledge today...