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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Anthony Van Pham

Anthony Van Pham

by Oxfam | May 17, 2010

I am a lawyer, filmmaker, and photographer currently working in Toronto. I’ve been a member of Oxfam for over five years, first as a part of my university’s campus group, and then with the Toronto Community Group. I’ve recently become a member of the Ontario Regional Steering Committee, and hope to continue working with Oxfam for years to come.

I’ve also done work with other NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights.

Unlike other a lot of organizations that only deal with one specific aspect of social justice, I’ve believe Oxfam’s more holistic approach to human rights has had the biggest impact on making relevant global change.

It’s one thing to fight for the rights of political prisoners, or support the spread of democracy in the third world, but it’s another to create an environment where those types of changes can take root and last. History has shown us that without functioning institutions to ensure transparency, high education standards, and sustainable economic development, people won’t have the means to lift themselves out of poverty. Oxfam understands this, which is why their campaigns have always focused on the root causes of poverty and inequality.

Recently I helped make a short film illustrating the lack of available sanitation for people in the third world, particularly women. The Manitoba Council for International Cooperation showed interest, and it’s currently being screened at conferences in schools across the province.

I’ve also helped organize several events concerning issues as diverse as ending world hunger, to stopping the proliferation of small arms around the world. The wonderful thing about Oxfam is that its scope is so broad, and its approach so volunteer driven, that no matter what your interest there is a way for you to get involved.

Being fortunate enough to live in such an affluent country, it is easy to forget how unfairly impoverished most other parts of the world are. When I participate in every campaign and event, I know I’m helping to make a difference in changing the world for the better.

During my early experiences with Oxfam, many of the issues surrounding economic justice, such as fair trade and illegal subsidies were mostly unknown to the general public. Now, thanks to groups like Oxfam, public consciousness has not only been raised substantially, but local businesses that serve fair trade, ethically produced goods have begun to proliferate in my very own neighbourhood. Even large corporations, seeing the profitability in being socially conscious have also begun to adapt.

These changes may seem small, but they have a very real and profound effect on the lives of people around the world; knowing that my work with Oxfam had a part in creating that change has been incredibly fulfilling.

Oxfam has always done a great job in making the problems of people across the world, relevant to those living down the block.

There are people in your very own community, willing to work hard to help bring social justice around the world. Working with the amazing people I’ve met during my involvement with Oxfam, I honestly believe that we are closer than ever.

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