Our work is inspired by six core values:
- Equality – We believe everyone has the right to be treated fairly and to have the same rights and opportunities
- Empowerment – We acknowledge and seek to expand people’s agency over their lives and the decisions that impact them.
- Solidarity – We join hands, support, and collaborate across boundaries in working toward a just and sustainable world.
- Inclusiveness – We embrace diversity and difference, and value the perspectives and contributions of all people and communities in their fight against poverty and injustice.
- Accountability – We take responsibility for our actions and inaction and hold ourselves accountable to the people we work with and for.
- Courage – We speak truth to power and act with conviction on the justice of our causes.
Our Focus Areas
Economic Justice & Equal Rights
What we stand for: Oxfam champions workers’ rights and challenges the extreme concentration of global wealth and power. We fight efforts by elites to divide us based on race, gender, nationality, and class so that no one goes to bed hungry and everyone has an equal chance to succeed.
Problem statement: Decent work and paying your fair share are hallmarks of a healthy society. In the US and around the world, essential workers fuel our economies and ensure we have what we need to thrive. But massive corporations as well as wealthy people and governments hold too much power at the expense of everyone else. The result: poverty wages, dangerous working conditions, and tax rules that let the privileged few off the hook. They prosper while the rest of us compete for an ever-shrinking slice of the pie.
Solutions: Oxfam advocates for more equal economies, workers’ rights, corporate accountability, and debt relief for low-income countries, as well as investments in health care and education for all in the US and globally. We expose corporate abuses of power and practices that put workers at risk, illuminating the discrimination facing immigrants, refugees, people of color, and women. We also push the world’s largest companies to pay their workers a living wage and to pay their fair share of taxes to help fund schools and health care.
Through partnerships with local Black and immigrant rights groups in the US, we bring low-wage workers—including health care workers, poultry workers, and childcare providers—to talk directly with their elected officials so they have more say over the policies that affect their lives. We also call on US policymakers to strengthen federal protections for these workers, including raising the minimum wage, providing workplace safety requirements, and advocating for paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and affordable childcare.
Women’s rights & gender justice
What we stand for: Oxfam partners with feminist and women-led organizations to end gender discrimination in all its forms and to help women and girls live free of violence while controlling their own destiny.
Problem statement: Gender is a powerful predictor of poverty and injustice in our world today. Although women produce most of the food we eat and represent the majority of our essential caregivers and workers, their rights are under constant threat and many don’t have the same opportunities as men. Discrimination, persecution, and violence against people based on race and gender threaten the safety and dignity of millions of people in the US and around the world. LGBTQIA+ people of color, in particular, face some of the highest rates of marginalization in the world.
Solutions: Oxfam advocates for gender equality so that every person has the same chance at success regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We promote feminist leadership, supporting women and girls to defend their economic rights, to influence more of the decisions that affect their lives, and to gain financial independence. We work with young people to challenge patriarchal attitudes that drive abuse and keep women and nonbinary people poor. We also support men and boys to challenge harmful gender stereotypes, create greater balance in the sharing of household responsibilities, and promote nonviolence within families and communities.
Achieving gender equality also means campaigning for bold investments in care infrastructure to support women who depend on affordable childcare to work and provide for their families. We advocate for wealthy and large companies to pay their fair share of taxes to better fund social safety net programs and improve pay for care workers. We fight for paid parental and sick leave policies that put parents of all genders on equal footing, unlocking economic potential and the building blocks of a more caring world. We also advocate for equal pay for equal work so that women, particularly women of color, are no longer undervalued and underpaid.
What we stand for: Oxfam offers lifesaving support in times of crisis and advocates for the rights of people searching for safety. We believe local leaders are best placed to respond when disaster strikes their communities and best placed to alleviate suffering caused by climate impacts, economic injustice, and violence.
Problem statement: Effective humanitarian action requires a deep understanding of culture, geography, language, and power. As climate impacts and conflict force record numbers of people from their homes—putting lives and livelihoods at risk—local organizations are the best- positioned “first responders” to save lives and build their communities’ resilience to future catastrophes. But too often these organizations lack the funding and political action from governments to get the job done.
Solutions: Oxfam advocates for the dignity of people in crisis, partnering with a global network of local organizations to deliver clean water, food, cash, and information to communities in need. We challenge harmful legacies of colonialism, shifting power from international organizations like Oxfam to leaders rooted in local know-how and pushing for reforms to make foreign aid a better tool for ending poverty. We help local responders break their dependence on aid by investing in their communities before disaster strikes to reduce potential harm. Given that women often experience crises in distinct ways, we also elevate the voices of women’s rights groups to help design and implement preparedness, response, and recovery programs.
We treat the movement of people as a right, not a crisis. We address the root causes that force people from their homes, such as gender-based violence and climate disasters. We support local peacebuilders and advocate to end protracted conflicts, especially when the US plays a role in fueling violence. We call for policy change that protects immigrants and refugees in the US, including supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented people, more humane policies at the US-Mexico border, and economic and workplace protections. We also bring leaders from communities around the world to Washington, DC, to ensure their priorities drive US government action to strengthen funding for local humanitarian action, bolster the role of women as leaders and advocates, and help local and national communities and governments improve their disaster management systems.
What we stand for: Oxfam supports climate solutions crafted by the people and communities most affected by the climate crisis and calls on wealthy polluters to reduce their emissions, pay their fair share of damages, and support a fair transition from fossil fuels to a sustainable and just energy future.
Problem statement: The climate crisis is exposing the unequal and devastating effects of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and sea level rise on communities of color in the US and other vulnerable communities around the world. Powerful oil, gas, and agricultural companies are posting record profits while rapidly warming the planet, leaving those least responsible for the crisis on the hook. Many people can’t grow enough food because of drought conditions, are more susceptible to natural disasters like hurricanes, and sometimes must make the difficult choice to flee their homes to seek a better future
Solutions: Oxfam advocates for climate action to protect the rights and livelihoods of people most affected by the climate crisis. We fight for government action to help communities cope with climate impacts and shift public dollars from fossil fuel subsidies to climate-friendly alternatives. We pressure wealthy corporations to lower pollution across their global operations, empowering consumers to hold them accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions. We also call on governments to aggressively fund sustainable climate solutions such as solar and wind energy.
We champion people on the front lines of a changing climate who are creating their own solutions to the crisis. In places where fewer crops survive every planting season and ecosystems are at risk, we work with farmers and fishing communities to restore degraded land and habitats as well as expand opportunity through alternative agricultural practices. We support Indigenous Peoples and women in communities under threat from deforestation for industrial food production and from fossil fuel extraction that pollutes the land and water they rely on. We also collaborate with partners in the US and globally to ensure that economic, racial, and gender justice are at the heart of climate action.
We acknowledge that Oxfam’s mission to fight inequality to end poverty and injustice is not going to happen overnight. Changing and rebuilding broken systems takes time, and people are experiencing crises and need help right now.
We approach our mission in two ways:
- We offer lifesaving support now: When disaster strikes, Oxfam works with a global network of local organizations to address urgent humanitarian needs and protect lives.
For example: In response to six devastating years of civil war—and now COVID-19—Oxfam and our local partner organizations have provided clean water, soap, cash, and small business assistance to more than three million people in Yemen. Oxfam supporters have also pushed the US government to seek an end to this war, which is responsible for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, including a successful effort to discontinue the role of the US as a broker of deadly weapons.
- We tackle the root causes of poverty for the long term: Oxfam works to dismantle the unequal systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice. Together with our supporters, we reject the extreme concentration of wealth and power that drives inequality, and we challenge billionaires, corporations, governments, and international financial institutions to do better.
For example: Unequal pay means mothers and women of color in the US are paid less on the dollar than their male counterparts. In the US, Oxfam works with more than a dozen local partners in the Gulf Coast to train and place people in decent jobs with livable wages and benefits while advancing innovative policies that benefit working families such as wage equality legislation at the state and federal levels. As a result of these efforts, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, was designated a pay equity city in 2019. Through growing partnerships with immigrant rights and racial justice organizations, we also fight for the livelihoods of undocumented people and formerly incarcerated individuals.