Holding the powerful to account

People should be involved in decisions that affect them, and free to hold powerful people accountable. We help people fight discrimination and demand their rights.

Putting votes first

Thanks to an Oxfam initiative, 166,000 women in Pakistan were able to vote for the first time in 2013.

Dropping the debt

In 2010, the IMF cancelled Haiti's debts of $268m thanks to campaigning by Oxfam and others.

The issue

Poverty is about more than aid. It's also about nobody listening to you.

Poor people usually lack power - which makes it easier for powerful people to ignore them. So millions of people have little or no say in decisions that affect them, and slim chance of influencing policies and practices that affect their lives.

This can mean governments denying people the chance to get their views across, or holding elections that aren't democratic, or vested interests prevailing over public interest.

What we're doing


Oxfam helps people speak out together, so their views and needs are heard and their basic rights are granted to them.

In Malawi, for example, we trained volunteers, along with government workers, to help them decide together what poor communities needed most. They came up with plans for bridges, wells and a literacy project.

And in Brazil, we backed the Quilombola community as they fought to reclaim land they traditionally occupied. The first Quilombola MP was elected, ensuring their claims will be heard nationwide.

And we're helping poor people secure other rights too - starting with proper access to information, and legal advice, so they have the knowledge and confidence to claim their rights.

We're supporting freedom of expression and people's right to demonstrate or join movements and unions - liberties denied to many, in rich countries as well as poor.

But raising voices and obtaining the right to be heard is not enough. We are also supporting authorities to fulfil their obligations and bridge the cultural and behavioural gaps between the public and people in power.

Donate to Oxfam's work in the UK

Make a donation and support our work to tackle food poverty, reduce food waste, and find long lasting solutions to the underlying causes of poverty in the UK.

Donate now

You may also be interested in:

More about holding powerful people to accountMore about holding powerful people to account on our Policy & Practice website.

Other issues we work on