Oxfam Canada Statement on the Reorganization of Oxfam Confederation Structures

May 21, 2020

Following the announcement earlier this week on the acceleration of new strategic changes to Oxfam’s global operations, Oxfam Canada reconfirms its commitment to its existing programs and to a continued focus on women’s rights and gender justice.

“Oxfam Canada will continue our programs worldwide to support women’s rights and tackle the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice. We remain steadfastly committed to gender justice, in Canada and around the world,” said Kate Higgins, Oxfam Canada’s Interim Executive Director.

Oxfam Canada will continue its work to end violence against women, advance sexual and reproductive health and rights, promote the economic empowerment of women, and support women’s transformative leadership. Our humanitarian work will continue unabated, working to put women in the driver’s seat of how we respond.

The global changes at Oxfam are driven by a new 10-year strategic vision, a desire to centre more power within the organization in the global South and the financial pressures COVID-19 is putting on some parts of the global confederation.

“Oxfam is on a journey from a confederation where power was held by its northern members who funded lifesaving work in developing countries, to a global network of organizations working together with allies both to beat poverty and fight its root causes such as conflict, climate change, and gender and economic inequalities,” said Chema Vera, Oxfam International’s Interim Executive Director in an opinion piece published in Devex earlier this week.

Oxfam will phase out its physical presence in 18 countries. Oxfam will continue to be present in every region of the world, with offices remaining in 48 countries. It plans to increase resources to some of these programs and refocus how each works, according to the different specific needs of people and their communities. In addition, Oxfam is establishing independent affiliates in more Southern countries and developing stronger systems to work with partner networks and allies at the country level.

Oxfam will honour existing commitments to partners and donors in all countries where physical presence will be phased out, and is committed to ensuring the quality and impact of our existing programs in these countries. Where physical presence is phased out, Oxfam will still have the opportunity to work with partners and allies to support social movements and influence governments for positive change. Detailed implementation plans for each country that is affected will be developed over the coming months.

COVID-19 has had an impact on Oxfam’s global finances. Some countries have been hit harder than others, in particular due to the closure of Oxfam shops. This financial imperative has driven the confederation to make changes sooner than planned to ensure our organizational structures remain sustainable and that we can deliver a new strategic plan. Even in the face of COVID-19, Oxfam Canada remains in a strong financial position.

“These changes will ensure Oxfam can deliver on its ambitious new strategy globally. Our goal of fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice remains the same, but our vision for the future requires us, as an international NGO, to work differently,” Higgins said.

“We are acutely aware that we have had to make some very difficult choices. The resulting changes will affect many dedicated staff and partners who work hard every day to fight for equality and justice. We are extremely grateful for all their commitment and their amazing work”, Higgins said.

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  • Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent ‘affiliate’ members, each with its own Board and governance structure.
  • The Oxfam confederation currently runs 66 country program teams. Under this restructure, it intends to explore new affiliate members in six countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia, Senegal, Kenya and the Pacific (an amalgamation including of five current country teams). Including these six, it will retain its presence in 48 countries with refocused operational strategies. It will phase out physical presence over time in 18 countries: Thailand, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Paraguay, Egypt, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Benin, Liberia and Mauritania



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