Introduction to Oxfam

"Our goal is to build on the significant progress that has been achieved in recent years in securing women’s rights. Further improvements in legislation and policy are necessary but not sufficient. Our goal is sustained, widespread changes in attitudes and beliefs about gender power relations in order to further women’s rights and gender justice.”

The Power of People Against Poverty, Oxfam Strategic Plan 2013-2019

One person in three in the world lives in poverty. Oxfam is determined to change that world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty.

Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. We save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And we campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

In all we do, Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.

Read about our Vision and Mission

Oxfam Canada is an affiliate of the international Oxfam Confederation. Together we are 17 organizations networked together in over 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change. We work directly with communities, and we seek to influence those in power to ensure that people living in poverty can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

We believe that together, people can create a fair world, free of poverty and injustice. A fair world that respects the basic rights of all human beings to:

  • earn a decent living to support themselves and their families
  • enjoy basic education and health care
  • get help in life-threatening disasters
  • speak out for their rights
  • be treated as equal


The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War.

The first of the "international" Oxfams, Oxfam Canada was founded in 1963 and independently incorporated in 1966. The first Board of Directors included 21 distinguished Canadians. Oxfam began to provide educational materials to schools and undertake advocacy work in public policy development.

Today, Oxfam Canada works with over 100 partner organizations in developing countries; tackling the root causes of poverty and inequity and helping people to create self-reliant and sustainable communities. In Canada, Oxfam is active in education, policy advocacy and building a constituency of support for our work.