Topic: human rights

Why building ‘resilience’ matters, and needs to confront injustice and inequality

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser (right), introduces ‘No Accident’, Oxfam’s new paper on resilience and inequality Asking 50 Oxfam staff what they think of resilience will get 50 different responses. These will range all the way from the Sceptics (“just the latest buzzword, keep your head down and it’ll go away”), to the Deniers (“really […]

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Will horror and over a thousand dead be a watershed moment for Bangladesh?

A huge and chaotic conversation over how to respond to the appalling Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh (where the death toll has now passed an unprecedented 1100) is producing some important initial results, in the form of the international ‘Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’, launched this week. I got a glimpse of […]

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A crucial step in fighting inequality and discrimination: the law to make India’s private schools admit 25% marginalised kids

This guest post comes from Exfam colleague and education activist Swati Narayan  This summer, India missed the historic deadline to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. This landmark law, the fruit of more than a decade of civil society activism, has many path-breaking clauses. For the first time, it […]

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Strikes, Spookytown, and a traumatic exit from feudalism: Women on Farms in South Africa

Managed to squeeze at least one day away from offices and lecture theatres in South Africa last week. In this case a road trip with Women on Farms, an Oxfam partner led by the charismatic Colette Solomon (right), IDS PhD turned grassroots activist. In the Western Cape, scenic is an understatement: lush vineyards festooned with […]

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Are global gender norms shifting? Fascinating new research from World Bank

I’ve been thinking a bit about norms recently – how do the unwritten rules that guide so much of our behaviour and understanding of what is acceptable/right/normal etc evolve over time? Because they undoubtedly do – look at attitudes to slavery, women’s votes, racial equality or more recently child rights. So in advance of International […]

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Civil Society, Public Action and Accountability in Africa

An important new paper from some big development names – Shanta Devarajan and Stuti Khemani from the World Bank, and Michael Walton (ex Bank, now at Harvard Kennedy School) – directs a slightly fierce (but welcome) political economy gaze at donor efforts to strengthen civil society (one of the more recent developmental fads). As with […]

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What does a ‘rights-based approach’ look like in practice? A new Oxfam guide

Sometimes it seems like the devil has all the best tunes, while the angels struggle to get their message across. In development, some of the most interesting and important concepts are rendered impenetrable to non-specialists by a morass of jargon. Take human rights for example. Today is International Human Rights Day, but I for one, […]

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Will this time be different? What hope for Gaza?

Ed Cairns (right), Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on humanitarian advocacy, on the prospects for peace and progress in Gaza Two weeks after the ceasefire. One week after Palestine became a UN ‘non-member observer state’. Where are we now? As Jabr Qudeih, a local aid worker in Gaza says: There’s a truce, but all the key […]

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Love, death and violence against women in the DRC (and elsewhere): what are we missing?

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, so expect a rash of stories about sexual violence in the DRC’s current conflict. Here Rachel Hastie, Oxfam’s protection adviser,  cautions against a simplistic ‘heart of darkness’ narrative, and argues for a more nuanced and human understanding of the phenomenon. There’s a lovely […]

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How change happens in India – via the Supreme Court and ‘judicial activism’

With the US going to the polls today, and memories of hanging chads and lawyers swarming like flies round voting stations, it seems like a good time to talk about India’s version of judicial activism, based on my recent visit At a national level, when it comes to rights and poverty, India seems to combine […]

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Day of the Girl (and a small revolution in the birthplace of humanity)

Guest post from Carron Basu Ray, (right) who coordinates Oxfam’s ‘My Rights, My Voice’ programme The Ngorongoro area of Tanzania is regarded as the birthplace of humanity, a vast, strikingly beautiful part of the world. The Maasai pastoralists who live there are among the most marginalised people in the country and their children, especially the […]

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Building Active Citizenship and Accountability in Asia: case studies from Vietnam and India

Last week I attended a seminar in Bangkok on ‘active citizenship’ in Asia, part of an ‘Asia Development Dialogue’ organized by Oxfam, Chulalongkorn University and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. It brought together a diverse group of local mayors, human rights activists and academics, and discussed […]

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