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Active citizenship in Oxfam




Poor and marginalized people can gain control over their own lives by exercising their right to political participation, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and access to justice. That is a foundation of all that Oxfam believes and does.

There are many recent examples of people asserting their rights in many forms, often through youth-led movements, to lead positive societal change in the face of economic volatility, social inequality and corruption, especially where corporate and political institutions are weak. Yet these rights are at risk in many parts of the world, making women, youth, and their organizations especially vulnerable.

Get organised


This goal will be pursued in many different contexts in countries around the world, but we will particularly focus on supporting women and youth because deep-rooted inequalities of societal power are often gender- and generation-based.

This goal aims to connect with, and support, young people as social change leaders in the effort to overcome poverty and injustice.

It is also a goal that involves our publics and supporters, encouraging them to recognize the consequences of their personal economic, political and social choices – as consumers (for example, by purchasing Fair Trade products), through actions of solidarity with poor and marginalized people, and through engagement with governments and businesses.

This goal will focus also on urban poverty, building the ability of marginalized urban poor to organize and claim their rights, and to demand strong governance and recognition of their entitlement to critical infrastructure and services. The people most at risk should have most to say about planning for the future and adapting to an environment where urban disaster is becoming more inevitable.




More poor and marginalized people will:

  • understand and be better able to exercise their rights to organize, to information, to public participation and to equal justice
  • influence and benefit from the policies and legislation of governments on resource allocation, and the policies and practices of the private sector; and are respected by governments and the private sector
  • benefit from increasingly accountable and transparent governments and private sector because they are better able to demand transparency, fulfilment of pro-poor promises and respect for citizens’ rights and the rule of law



  • more citizens will contribute to overcoming poverty and injustice through personal choices as consumers (through for example purchasing Fair Trade products), taking action in solidarity with poor and marginalized people and influencing governments and business as active global citizens



Achieving the goal


Organizing effectively

  • Organize to persuade governments to lift restrictive laws that deny civil and political rights and to engage constructively with civil society
  • Strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to self-organize around the priorities of poor and marginalized people (in particular women and youth) in both rural and urban settings
  • Work with youth and women’s organizations, recognizing and supporting their own ways of expression and organization


Access to information and technology

  • Use the disclosure policies and laws that guarantee right to information and revenue transparency to enhance the transparency of governments and companies
  • Use digital communication and social media to make information more accessible and understandable to poor and marginalized groups – especially women and youth – so that they can generate and share their own information, ideas and opinions (citizens’ reporting)
  • Enhance access to the information (such as early warning, weather and market information) that is needed by poor people to thrive even in the event of shocks, stresses and uncertainty


Public decision and policy-making spaces

  • Encourage women and young people and other vulnerable people to influence and participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives, and to strive for political leadership
  • Promote social accountability tools such as participatory monitoring of government income and expenditure to monitor and influence public decisions and to ensure that poor people benefit from revenue flows, including from extractive industries


Access to justice

  • Support legal aid, rights awareness and public litigation initiatives that primarily benefit women who are marginalized from usual legal systems; use legal strategies to enable civil society to use the law to uphold the human rights of poor and marginalized people


 Global citizenship

  • Encourage Oxfam supporters to act as global active citizens through personal choices and actions – as consumers of energy and food, through Fair Trade products, as political constituents regarding aid, social justice, transparency and accountability; and through their actions as employees and employers
  • Support organizations of poor and excluded people (in particular women and youth organizations and networks) to link with other organizations and activists to learn from each other and collaborate on joint campaigns for people’s participation, civic awareness about global challenges and pro-poor policies
  • Support the most vulnerable to participate in processes and debates that identify and manage risks and uncertainty

Expected impact by 2019


More women, young people and other poor and marginalized people will exercise civil and political rights to influence decision-making by engaging with governments and by holding governments and businesses accountable to respect their rights.



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