Initiative for Equality, or IfE (pronounced “ee-fay”), is a global network of advocates and community members in over 115 countries, working towards a world in which social, economic and political inequalities are substantially reduced and no one is excluded from decision-making. We organize within poor, socially excluded, and marginalized communities to ensure that community members are empowered to participate in public dialogues, decision-making, and follow-up monitoring for accountability. We network globally to gather information, share ideas, develop leadership skills, and plan effective strategies for collaboration on equality-related issues. We are building a powerful, influential, democratically-governed movement for greater equality. We hope you will join us!
IMPLEMENTING GOAL 10: “Reducing inequalities within and among countries” is a centerpiece of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), negotiated for the past 3 years and adopted on 25 September 2015 by all nations in the UN. IfE was instrumental in the development and adoption of Goal 10. Although there are many problems with the language, it represents a significant shift in global discourse, endorsing the importance of reducing inequalities. IfE’s Deborah Rogers spoke at a Side Event on Goal 10 during the UN General Assembly meetings to adopt the SDGs. You can read her statement here. Speakers at the event, which was sponsored by the government of Indonesia, the European Commission, and several NGOs, agreed that inequalities are the central theme of the new SDGs, and that addressing inequalities will be a political battle, not a technocratic process. Holding governments and international agencies accountable through citizen participatory monitoring (see story below) will be the key to success.
MONITORING THREATS TO PEACE: IfE’s partner organizations in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda are building a citizens’ network to monitor threats to peace and human rights in the troubled African Great Lakes Region. Decades of poor governance, economic exploitation, ethnic strife and regional conflict have led to millions of deaths in what some have called World War III. Lack of global attention has allowed the situation to perpetuate, while demand for rare minerals found in the region has led to militarized bids for control of resources, aggravating pressures on the agricultural economy. The strategy of IfE’s partners is to work with communities and journalists to hold governments and other actors accountable for the severe inequalities and anti-democratic abuses that promote conflict and prevent equitable development. The partner organizations recently elected a Steering Committee to develop a detailed plan of action to confront these problems.
PUTTING CITIZENS IN CHARGE: A transition from a development paradigm of “aid and charity” to one of “justice and equality” is currently underway, with the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) talking about human rights, equality, and participation by all, including the poorest and most marginalized people. But in order for the transformative potential of the new SDGs to become a reality, we need to ensure that the priorities of local people are central to the development agenda, and to hold multilateral institutions and governments accountable for meeting the goals and targets. Given current trends, citizen-led initiatives may be the only reliable way to ensure relevant monitoring and promote accountability. IfE is organizing a global participatory monitoring and accountability alliance, based on our Field Hearings network but open to others. Our goal is to put citizens in charge of their own development agenda. Read more about this initiative to support citizen monitoring and accountability efforts around the world, then join us!
PARTNERS MONITOR RELIEF EFFORT IN NEPAL: IfE’s Field Hearings partners in Nepal met recently to elect a Country Coordinator for the next 2 years (selecting Bhola Bhattarai), and to set priorities for their work. They are organizing a citizen’s monitoring network to watch over the relief effort following recent large earthquakes there. Allegations of corruption, politics, and delays due to red tape have caused mistrust and raised concerns about the adequacy of the relief effort. This participatory monitoring & accountability (PMA) initiative will work through local citizens to track the promises made and actual results on the ground in various communities, using this information to hold government and international agencies accountable. Under the coordination of Field Hearings partners Bhola Bhattarai (National Forum for Advocacy - Nepal) and Purna Nepali (Consortium for Land Research and Policy Dialogue), IfE partners will gather information from citizens in communities across the country, and pressure government and international agencies for proper management of earthquake relief funds.
IfE AND PPEHRC JOIN FORCES: IfE and the U.S. network Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) are joining forces to launch a collaboration across the U.S., bringing poor and marginalized communities into the global Field Hearings network and facilitating community discussions across the U.S. on initiating “solidarity economy” approaches such as community banks, and worker, producer or consumer cooperatives. At the June 2015 U.S. Social Forum in Philadelphia, IfE and PPEHRC put on a joint workshop entitled “Building a sustainable, people-centered economy through participatory economic development.” We discussed participatory processes for facilitating community-initiated economic development that, unlike the current system, would be democratically governed, environmentally and socially sustainable, and promote ever-greater levels of equality. By engaging community members, the needs and priorities of the community can direct the process of economic development.
GLOBAL SOLIDARITY FOR EQUALITY IN CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE: Over 200 civil society groups from more than 50 countries around the world have now endorsed the “International Civil Society Call to Address Inequalities and Social Justice in Climate Policy.” (READ & SIGN). The Call focuses attention on the relationships between climate change and socioeconomic inequalities. Climate change disproportionately impacts poor and marginalized people and communities. Inequality promotes unsustainable over-consumption by making it socially acceptable for some people to have far more than others, and by tying consumption to social status. Finally, by eroding trust and creating social fragmentation, inequality blocks cooperation and joint problem-solving between communities and nations. The Statement, which will be circulated to climate negotiators and news media, calls on nations and multilateral institutions to make inequality and injustice a central element of the COP 21 climate accords and subsequent policies. Join us and sign on!
The Next System: In this short (4 minute) video discussion, Gar Alperovitz and others discuss why a complete overhaul of our political-economic system is needed in order to ensure a viable future for everyone. You can visit the webpage here, or read this article about the project. Better yet, watch the full 90-minute video discussion. Speakers from a variety of perspectives cover poverty, racism, environmental destruction, militarism, corporate capture of political decision-making and related topics, and what can be done about it. Take an evening, gather some friends, watch the full video, and discuss!