Oxfam focuses on gender justice
The others are: economic justice, essential services, and rights in crisis. focusses
There are many, often complex, reasons why women are not reaching their full potential, and domestic violence, discrimination, and lack of education are among the biggest barriers.
But with education comes literacy, and with literacy comes confidence and the chance to earn more money, to become self-sufficient – and to speak out against violence.
Long-held and deeply entrenched prejudices may well take time to break down, but Oxfam has become committed to supporting women in claiming their rights, and making decisions that affect their lives.
One example of how it does this is Oxfam’s ‘We Can’ campaign, which has been making violence against women a public concern.
Oxfam has been working on undoing the shame and stigma attached to talking about violence against women and triggering a desire among ordinary people to change social attitudes that support such violence and other gender inequality.
Launched in late 2004, with the goal of ‘reducing the social acceptance of violence against women’, the campaign started off in six South Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – but it has since spread to Indonesia, the Netherlands and British Colombia in Canada.
The campaign focuses on domestic violence, which in South Asia comprises a wide range of forms of abuse, from preferential feeding of male children to honour killing.
And the message is:
• That violence is never acceptable
• That violence against women is a public, not a private matter
• That everyone has the right to a life free from violence
• That small actions can bring about big changes
• That each one of us can find our own actions to end violence
The ‘We Can’ campaign has been built on the idea that people change – and that people change people.
It works on the premise that when enough people embark upon a change they can influence and transform the institutions, communities, and societies of which they are a part.
And working through ‘Change Makers’ - ordinary women and men who commit to rejecting violence against women, changing themselves, and reaching out to influence ten other people around them – the Campaign has already reached out to tens of millions of people across South Asia.
It does not prescribe actions, it offers people an idea: that violence against women is not normal, it is not acceptable and it must end.
For women and men trapped in cycles of violence, this can be a transformative idea.
At another level, Oxfam also publishes a journal called Gender & Development, which is the only journal published to focus specifically on international gender and development issues, and to explore the connections between gender and development initiatives, and feminist perspectives.
Gender & Development has, in partnership with the UK Gender and Development Network (GADN), been running a major Learning Project on Beyond Gender Mainstreaming.
GM is the process of assessing every proposed policy or action from a gender viewpoint, in order to to understand how women and men may be differently affectedly it.
The Learning Project aimed to chart the different ways in which GM has been attempted, identify the barriers and challenges it faces, and celebrate its successes.
The project has three components: the Eldis Online Discussion in November 2011; a Beyond Gender Mainstreaming Learning Workshop, held in February 2012 and a special Beyond Gender Mainstreaming issue of the journal bringing together the many different strands of the project.
This special issue will be published in November 2012.
Gender & Development is a print and electronic journal, available by subscription.