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Global citizenry to fight poverty

Jul 02, 2008

Oxfam’s latest book From Poverty to Power argues that the world needs both active citizens and effective states for rooting out poverty and inequity. Viewing disparity as both a moral and practical challenge, the book proposes realistic solutions based on collaborative social action.

From Poverty to PowerAuthor: Duncan Green

Publisher: Oxfam, 2008

The fight against poverty, inequity and environmental collapse will define the twenty-first century. This ‘stop doing harm agenda’ should be complemented by active solidarity with struggles of the poor. 

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The book provides critical insights into the causes of poverty and deprivation and suggests ways to overcome disparities, laying stress on collaborative social action.

One in six of the world’s people lead lives amidst poverty, hunger and disease. Poor communities around the world are increasingly paying the price for climate change that is largely caused by the profligate carbon emissions of rich countries.

Even within countries, inequalities are grotesque. In the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, primary school enrolment for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe girls is 37 per cent, compared with 60 per cent for girls from non-scheduled castes.

Women grow between 60–80 per cent of the food produced in most developing countries, yet own less than 2 per cent of the land.

Such extremes are both morally repugnant and a criminal waste of talent and potential.

What is required is nothing less than a global new deal – a redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets.

Oxfam’s experience in more than 100 countries around the world shows that the necessary redistribution can best be accomplished through a combination of active citizens and effective nation states.

If people are to live with dignity, and if states, firms, and others are to be held accountable for their actions, it is critical that people are able to determine the course of their own lives, fighting for rights and justice.

The book sets out a vision of women and men in communities everywhere, who are equipped with education, enjoy good health, have rights, dignity, and voice – and are in charge of their own destinies.

Rich countries have to tackle harmful practices in their own constituencies first. For instance, cracking down on arms trade, human trafficking, forced liberalisation of trade and markets, planet destroying carbon emissions.

Some of the exemplary case studies highlighted in this publication include the 2004 legislation passed by the Morocco government to protect women’s rights, improved access to HIV/AIDS treatment in South Africa and India’s campaign of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

A major thrust of the book is that development requires not just effective governments but also active citizens; not just good policies but also good politics; and not just local action but global cooperation as well.

Source : Oxfam
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