In 2021, Oxfam Canada continued to speak truth to power, fight to close the gap between the rich and the rest, and make real progress on women’s rights and gender equality. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified entrenched inequalities here in Canada and globally. That’s why we advocate and campaign for change at home and around the world. Connecting local and global struggles for social and economic justice helps our movement grow stronger and louder year after year.
Here’s what our advocacy in Canada achieved in 2021:
We advocated for vaccine equality. We launched a major campaign putting public pressure on the Canadian government to improve vaccine access for developing countries, which included big wins like major funding to COVAX and dose sharing announcements. We testified at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health as well as the Trade Committee on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, and made sure Canadians heard our messages on vaccine equity by speaking with Canadian media, appearing on shows like CBC’s “The Current” and “As It Happens.”
We advocated for climate justice. Working with allies, and engaging the public, we called for strong action on the climate crisis both in Canada and internationally. Our efforts contributed to successfully pressuring the Canadian government to double its climate finance contributions to $5.3 billion over the next five years, and cut public funding for international fossil fuel projects – freeing up funding to support the transition to a green economy. We launched “Feminist Approaches to Climate Justice”, a toolkit for Canadian organizations and activists aimed at advancing inclusive, feminist approaches to climate justice and advocacy.
We advocated for a feminist COVID-19 recovery. We made noise about the inequality impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provided key recommendations to the government in our annual Feminist Scorecard. We brought together feminists from around the world to imagine what a feminist economic transformation would look like. In Canada, we organized a roundtable with Deputy Prime Minister Freeland as part of her federal budget consultations that provided an opportunity for 12 feminist leaders to share their recommendations for the budget at the highest levels. We brought feminist issues into the forefront of the federal election by publishing the Oxfam Canada Federal Election Guide and working with partners and allies on the ‘Up for Debate’ campaign.
We advocated for investments in the care economy. Years of supporting the child care movement in Canada culminated in a massive win in Federal Budget 2021 – the government announced $30 billion for the creation of a national, early learning and child-care system. We also saw a huge win on the international front. Following three years of targeted advocacy with Global Affairs Canada, Canada became the first donor country in the world to fund stand-alone care programming as part of its international assistance by announcing $100 million in new funding for paid and unpaid care programming at the UN’s Generation Equality Forum. We also collaborated with Global Affairs Canada to host the only high-level official side event focused on gender equality at the World Bank / IMF 2021 Spring Meetings, titled “Investing in the Care Economy.”
We advocated for dignified wages for the women who make our clothes: We launched the What She Makes campaign calling on Canadian fashion brands and retailers to pay living wages to the women who make our clothes. We engaged five of the most well known Canadian fashion brands to make a commitment to paying living wages and have seen progress as a result.
We advocated for access to sexual and reproductive health services. We supported seven community-based public engagement initiatives spearheaded by youth to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights in their communities.
We advocated for Canadian leadership in conflict and crisis. We worked with allies to encourage the government to show leadership on the Afghanistan crisis through open letters in partnership with our allies. We raised the alarm bells on how the effects of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change have intensified the global hunger crisis, calling on Canada to play a leadership role globally in providing life-saving aid.
We supported and convened advocates. We brought together a cohort of 34 activists from nine provinces and territories for a three-day intensive online training where they shared lived experiences and advocacy skills from their communities and built knowledge on a range of global and domestic women’s rights and equality issues. We convened a group of 40+ intersectional feminist organizations in a strategy meeting ahead of the federal election to foster collaboration and solidarity and ensure the newly elected government prioritizes support for the feminist movement in Canada. We also surveyed women’s rights and feminist organizations domestically and globally to better understand the impact of the pandemic on the organizations.
What a year! Our advocacy made a difference in the fight to end poverty, tackle inequality and support women’s rights in Canada and around the world!
A huge thanks to our allies and supporters. It’s truly an honour to work alongside you all. We couldn’t do this work without you!