Initiative for Equality, or IfE (pronounced “ee-fay”), is a global network of advocates in over 80 countries working towards a world in which social, economic and political inequalities are substantially reduced and no one is excluded from decision-making. We develop information, strategies, and leadership skills; we share ideas and collaborate; and we empower communities to tell their stories as we search for a new paradigm of justice and equality. We hope you will join us!
IfE LAUNCHES GLOBAL POLL: Around the world, people are working on many issues related to inequality, from fighting racism to promoting women's rights to building new economic approaches. Some of these active efforts are already well-coordinated across national boundaries, and do not need IfE's involvement at this time. Other issues urgently need networking, information-sharing and collaboration at the global level. IfE's Equity Action Collaborative has taken input through an online poll to learn which issues have a clear need for international networking and collaboration. Over 10,000 people were invited to take the poll, and responses were obtained from more than 50 countries. Based on results of the poll, IfE will propose one or more Action Groups targeting specific issues, and invite individuals and organizations to work together to develop platforms for networking, information-sharing and collaboration on these issues. Watch for our summary of the results, coming soon, and then join with us to overturn the inequality paradigm!
GOAL ON INEQUALITIES RETAINED! The UN's Open Working Group (OWG) has decided to include a goal addressing inequalities within and between countries in their new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). IfE called for the goal in November of 2013. After a fierce debate, the OWG included the goal in their June 2014 Zero Draft. However, under pressure from certain nations, they decided to drop the goal or incorporate it into other goals. You can read an article by Social Watch about the on-again off-again Inequalities Goal here. With IfE's coordination, civil society groups around the world drafted a joint statement to the OWG, telling them it was not acceptable to drop the Stand-alone Goal on Inequalities. More than 170 organizations from around the world, including many Field Hearings partners, co-signed the statement. In the end, the OWG decided to retain Goal 10 on Inequalities! Click here to see the joint civil society statement to the OWG, and click here to see the final document adopted by the OWG. The UN General Assembly will now take up the question.
FIELD HEARINGS IN THE NEWS: Two news articles about the Field Hearings initiative have appeared recently. Cameroons Field Hearings partner and journalist Monde Kingsley Nfor has written an article titled “Bringing Cameroon’s Marginalised to the Poverty Debate,” published in December by Inter Press Service News Agency, a global wire service. According to one Cameroons official quoted in the article, if the poor are to benefit from development it is vital that they have a say in the decisions that affect them. Another article, by Field Hearings partner and journalist Anna da Costa, appeared on the website of the global news outlet and charity Thomson Reuters Foundation in late January. The article titled “Global field hearings give marginalised a voice” describes a Field Hearing in the wastepicking community of Dharavi slum, Mumbai, India. A UN official is quoted as saying that through the Field Hearings “…the voices of people in the grassroots are being taken directly to policymakers.”
100 RICHEST COULD END EXTREME POVERTY: According to a press briefing prepared by Oxfam, the 100 richest billionaires in the world added $240 billion to their annual incomes in 2012 – enough to end extreme poverty four times over. The Brookings Institution had earlier calculated that ending extreme poverty (supplementing the income of each poor person in the world to bring their daily income up to $1.25/day) would require around $66 billion per year (see report). The Oxfam report, released for the 2013 World Economic Forum at Davos, points out that inequality has risen dramatically in the past 30 years. This is harmful, they say, because extreme wealth and inequality is economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive, environmentally destructive, and unethical. They call for a goal of ending extreme wealth by 2025, arguing that in a world of finite resources, we cannot end poverty unless we reduce inequality.
THE EVERGREEN COOPERATIVES in Cleveland, Ohio (US), started up by the Democracy Collaborative and other partners in 2009, have transformed the lives of many people in the low-income neighborhoods of Cleveland. Read all about them here or watch a video here. Workers gain equity in these worker-owned businesses, and make decisions about how the business is run. These cooperatives are based on the model of the Mondragon Cooperatives, a group of Basque worker-owned businesses that now does over $20 billion worth of business each year. IfE’s Participatory Enterprises Project (PARTICEN) will look at these and other models for economic activity that increases equality and democratic control in the workplace. Click here to read more about our Participatory Enterprises Project, and click here to see a summary of various pro-equality economic models, including credit unions and publicly owned banks, housing cooperatives, and other public or cooperative ways to meet human needs.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” - 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without the concept of equality, the human rights framework loses its ethical power. If we truly intend to protect universal human rights, there is no question that we must work to protect these equally for every individual, in every culture. In fact, if human rights are not upheld equally, they could no longer be considered “human rights.” IfE works from the premise that equality – of social, economic, and political status – is, in itself, a fundamental human right that underlies and supports all the other rights. And while we must work to protect equal freedom from discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, slavery, torture, and constraints on speech and movement, we must also work to ensure equal rights to the social, economic, political, and natural resources necessary to meet human needs sustainably and support human well-being, freedom, justice, and peace. Join us!
In this 17-minute youtube video, social epidemiologist Prof. Richard Wilkinson presents the data on the harmful effects of inequality within countries, and discusses possible causes: Wilkinson and his colleagues are leading researchers on the impacts of socioeconomic inequality. Visit Wilkinson’s Equality Trust website to see more information about why inequality harms people: