Oxfam History

"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

In 1942, a group of intellectuals, social activists, and Oxford academics formed the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in response to the plight of refugees in Greece.

After the war, Oxfam (a name derived from its postal code abbreviation) continued its work, sending materials and financial aid to groups aiding poor people throughout Europe. As the situation in Europe improved, Oxfam’s attention shifted to the needs of people in developing countries.

Oxfam Canada was founded in 1963 and independently incorporated in 1966. The first Board of Directors included 21 distinguished Canadians. Oxfam Canada began to provide educational materials to schools and undertake advocacy work in public policy development and in 1995, it became an affiliate of the newly formed Oxfam Confederation.

Oxfam Today

Oxfam Canada is an affiliate of the international Oxfam Confederation. Together, we are 20 organizations networked 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.

Oxfam 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.

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