Economic justice: what we’re doing

To achieve this key goal by 2013, we support programs that:

  • Improve access to land and assets
  • Increase agricultural production
  • Improve farm-gate prices and market access
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Address threats to resources
  • Empower women
  • Incorporate young people
  • Improve labour rights

Our activities

Our work in economic justice has generated real and sustainable improvements in agricultural yields, food consumption and income across several regions for women and men small-scale producers.

Our continuous advocacy and campaigning has paved the way for policies that protect sustainable livelihoods and poor people’s assets to be developed and adopted. However, work to influence global rules and frameworks is often slow and frustrating, with small wins.

Some highlights from our economic justice work in 2010–2011:

  • In Malawi, we have reduced average annual “hunger months” from seven to two across 335 target villages, despite continuing unreliable rainfall
  • In Sri Lanka, we have supported improved indebtedness of more than 3,000 targeted community members through agriculture and livelihood support programs
  • Our conscious focus on women’s economic empowerment appears to be producing results, as in Southern Africa, South Asia, the Pacific and East Asia, increases in income and food production are linked closely to greater voice and more equal roles for women in the family and community, and reported declines in gender-based violence
  • Poor communities have used both their own organisation and the law to protect their land and water resources from being grabbed. Through working with partner community-based organisations in India and Sri Lanka, we are increasing awareness of land right entitlements and how to secure these; we have supported 290 families to obtain secure title to 757 hectares land in Andhra Pradesh, India, including 40 women who obtained secure land entitlement in their own names; and 78 people under threat of displacement (mainly women) have secured firm title to land in Sri Lanka.
  • After a major restructure, our mining work has marked achievements especially through promoting free, prior and informed consent for affected communities, stimulating private sector actors to follow up on their accountability in the countries in which they work, and in contributing to the Australian Government’s anticipated piloting of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
  • In Vietnam, we have worked with forest-dependent communities to reduce the degenerative impacts of their way of life on the forests. Policy advocacy at the provincial level resulted in firm government regulations guaranteeing communities’ ownership and a community model of forest management, monitoring and protection was introduced. The program has succeeded in improving income and food security for 2,000 families, minimising the risk of further forest degradation and ensuring firm tenure for minority women, as well as men, landowners
  • After several years of discussion and planning, we have developed and begun to use a comprehensive Climate Change Framework to guide our climate change work across advocacy, campaigning and development programs into the future
  • Economic Justice Week in Jakarta, Indonesia in April 2011, brought together 40 staff and partners and representatives from Oxfam International and other Oxfam affiliates to build a more coherent, impactful and integrated approach to our economic justice work.  The event confirmed that the GROW campaign offers a viable framework to bring together the many threads of our current economic justice program
  • At a local level, strengthening livelihoods, improving access to and control over land and natural resources, and increasing income is a key strength. In both Laos and Cambodia, wellbeing ranking exercises suggest that this support has contributed to a reduction in the number of families in the poorest wealth categories
  • Our economic justice programming is reaching groups marginalised due to ethnicity, socio-economic and health status — for example, the Adivasi and Dalit peoples in South Asia and people living with HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa
  • We registered some important gains in our advocacy and campaigning work on climate change. We supported Pacific civil society delegates to attend and participate in the United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun and our lobbying was a factor in world leaders, including the Australian Government, agreeing to establish a Green Climate Fund
  • As a result of sustained pressure by our labour rights program, in alliance with other national and international organisations, the largest sportswear transnational corporations are now closer to “best practice” in terms of respecting labour rights in their supply networks in East Asia
  • We have given strong support to programs that address gender inequalities. Although women’s involvement in livelihoods-related decision-making has improved, the extent to which this has translated into women’s economic empowerment is largely unknown

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