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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights
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by Oxfam | November 2, 2011


By now the pictures are all over the world. What is more de rigeur for the stars arriving at Cannes than a prance on the red carpet? This time on Monday morning, it was the steps of Paris’s iconic Petit Palais where Obama and Sarkozy, Merkel and Zuma, Dilma Roussef and Singh, Medvedev and Cameron cavorted to familiar movie tunes.

It was Oxfam’s reminder that the official theatre of the G20 Leaders’ Summit has consequences that are only too real. And beyond the posturing and photo ops, real action is essential. Our banner read: “Le G20: C’est pas du cinema !” And on the verso: “G20 Cannes: It’s no movie!”

The Big Heads are a traditional favourite of Oxfam supporters and journalists of all stripes whenever the G8 gather. Now that the leaders are twenty, we’ve scaled down the size and shape of our attire to fit more austere times. Maybe we should rechristen them the Modest Heads. Or how about the Flat Faces?

What a relief for the benighted volunteers that gamely donned the masks on Monday morning (including yours truly as Barack Obama). Light, comfortable, though of course you still can’t see a thing. The trick is to keep your face to the cameras, which I suppose is what stars on the red carpet always do anyway.

There will be more stunts later in the week, including a Robin Hood striptease at the demonstration in the city of Nice, Tuesday afternoon, that is bound to be an eye-catcher. Bill Gates is expected to call on G20 leaders to endorse the Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions (with the proceeds going to fight poverty and climate change).

C’est pas du cinema…


Mark Fried is Oxfam Canada’s policy coordinator.