About Oxfam

About Oxfam

Oxfam Canada’s mission is to build lasting solutions to poverty and injustice with a focus on improving the lives and promoting the rights of women and girls.

Ending Global Poverty Begins with Women's Rights

Oxfam Canada is part of a global movement for change made up of 19 Oxfam affiliates working in more than 90 countries to mobilize the power of people against poverty. Women’s rights and overcoming inequality are at the heart of everything we do.

Working with Canadians, our partners and allies around the world, Oxfam Canada strives to empower individuals, communities and organizations to build a world without poverty where all human beings are valued and treated equally - a world where women and girls have control over their lives and enjoy their full human rights.

Our vision is a just world without poverty. We envision a world in which people influence the decisions which affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and live as full citizens in a world where all human beings are valued and treated equally. Our mission is to build lasting solutions to poverty and injustice, with a focus on improving the lives and promoting the rights of women and girls.

We mobilize people and resources in Canada and around the world to change policies, practices, attitudes and behaviours that create inequality and human suffering. We are committed to strengthening a global movement in support of human rights and gender justice on a healthy planet.

Why Women's Rights?

The gap between rich and poor is widening – and gender is a main predictor for who will end up poor and who will end up with power.  We live in a rich world, yet:

  • More than 70% of people living on less than $1/day are women
  • 80 million children have no access to school – most of them girls
  • Each day 1,400 women die in pregnancy and childbirth
  • Young women are two to six times more at risk of HIV infection than the population as a whole
  • One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, and at least one in three will experience physical, mental or sexual abuse. These high rates of violence hinder women’s access to education, ability to work, participation in public life, freedom to make choices, or to exercise sexual and reproductive rights
  • Around the world, on average, only 16% of elected politicians are women
  • Laws that promote gender equality are often not enforced

We know that women and girls aren’t just the faces of poverty - they are also the key to overcoming it. Extreme poverty will never be eradicated until gender inequality is addressed. Oxfam Canada supports a global movement for change – and women are leading that change. When women’s rights are respected, women are healthier, better educated and better paid. Children thrive and so do communities, creating lasting benefits for generations to come. Read Oxfam's Ending Global Poverty Begins with Women's Rights.

We support and facilitate women’s leadership in partner organizations and communities that: address the root causes of local poverty; help women and men gain more secure incomes, greater access to water, basic healthcare and education, and address barriers to development.

Women are often the most at risk in emergencies and conflicts. Oxfam Canada delivers immediate life-saving assistance to all people affected by natural disasters or conflict, while working to ensure that women’s rights are taken into account. We put women at the centre of reconstruction, and in efforts to build resilience to future disasters.

Our history

Oxfam Canada is an affiliate of the international Oxfam Confederation, formed in 1995 by 19 independent non-governmental organizations around the world working together for greater global impact to reduce poverty and injustice. The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942 to campaign for supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during World War II.

Our modern-day organization faces new challenges. We’re heartened to see some dramatic improvements in global poverty levels: Within the last two decades, 660 million people have risen out of poverty, and average real incomes in developing countries have doubled. But the divide between the rich and the poor has grown significantly. Even in Canada, the gap is widening between rich and poor, with those with incomes in the top 10 per cent seeing their median net worth grow by 42 per cent between 2005-12 while those with incomes in the bottom 10 per cent saw their net worth shrink by 150 per cent in that same period (Source: Broadbent Institute, 2014).

High-income countries have average incomes that are more than 70 times those of low-income countries. One of the most serious and pervasive forms of inequality is discrimination against women and girls, who do 60 per cent of the world’s work but earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income (Source: United Nations Development Program).

Inequality keeps poor people poor and powerless, and weakens the capacity of economic growth to eradicate poverty. Systematic exclusion and discrimination create deep social problems and deny people dignity and voice. That in turn deepens social frustration and the likelihood of conflict. Get involved in Oxfam’s global initiative against inequality – click here for more information on the Even It Up campaign.

Our reach

Through the support of more than 50,000 funders and donors across Canada, Oxfam Canada raised $23.4 million in 2013-14 for our work in five of the most impoverished regions of the world. Read our most recent annual report here. We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Government of Canada and for the generous donations from individuals, organizations, unions, foundations and businesses whose contributions make our work possible.

Millions of people in 97 countries are reached through Oxfam’s work around the world. Globally, we raise more than $350 million annually. Click here to link to the web sites of other Oxfam affiliates around the world.