Even It Up
Even It Up: Oxfam’s campaign to tackle extreme inequality
Oxfam launched its global Even it up campaign in October 2014 and made global headlines on the issue of inequality at the last two World Economic Forums. Oxfam continues to present the case that extreme inequality is one of the defining issues of our time.
Extreme economic inequality has exploded across the world in the last 30 years. At the start of 2016, Oxfam calculated that the richest 62 people on the planet owned as much as the poorest half. Inequality within countries is also rising rapidly. Seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago.
Extreme inequality undermines growth and social progress and hinders efforts to eliminate global poverty. However, Oxfam’s experience of working in the world’s poorest communities has shown that poverty and inequality are not inevitable or accidental but are the result of deliberate policy choices. Through a number of concrete steps, inequality can be effectively addressed.
Recognising this, the Even it up campaign is focusing on getting inequality to the top of governments' agendas and contributing to concrete policy changes. The aim of the campaign is to shift the terms of the debate so that by 2019 there is widespread consensus among decision makers and citizens that the gap between rich elites and the rest of the population is unacceptable and that radical reforms are needed.
A number of campaign activities aim to strengthen the voices of civil society. Our objective is for a greater number of citizens and civil society organisations around the world to actively influence decision makers to pursue policies and practices that combat extreme inequality. The campaign is focused on achieving substantial policy and practice change, aiming for a number of major reforms to reverse economic, political and gender inequalities.
Vietnam is one of more than 40 countries where Oxfam is developing a national Even It Up campaign. As in other countries, inequality is rising in Vietnam, and the gains from economic growth are favouring better-off households. For example, since 2004 the richest households’ incomes have increased twice as much as those of the poorest households. There is also a growing gap between the extremely wealthy and most Vietnamese. While average GDP per capita was $1,077 in 2014, Vietnam had an estimated 195 super-rich people in 2013, up from 34 super-rich in 2003 .
Inequality between the Kinh majority and many ethnic minority groups is increasing. For example, while ethnic minority men, women and children make up 14 percent of Vietnam’s population, they account for 70 percent of the extreme poor. Across the country, inequality in voice and opportunities, such as access to decent education, health care and employment, is also substantial, particularly among rural and poor people. Despite this, inequality is not yet widely reflected in policy discussions and public debates, which often emphasise the need to alleviate income poverty rather than reduce inequality between different groups.
The inequality campaign in Vietnam will run from 2016 to 2019. Oxfam promotes public debate on the need to combat extreme inequalities, raising public awareness and contributing to the formulation of policies that address inequalities. In particular, the campaign focuses on the state budget and national tax system, looking at how a fair and effective collection of revenue and spending of the state budget can help finance high-quality and equitable public services. The campaign also addresses gender inequality and promotes women’s leadership, linking with existing Oxfam projects.
Collaborations and partners
In the Even It Up campaign, Oxfam is working with research institutes, think tanks, youth groups, civil society organisations and the media to generate evidence and create debates. Findings and recommendations from policy research will be presented to and disseminated through the National Assembly and government agencies.