Initiative for Equality, or IfE (pronounced “ee-fay”), is a global network of activists and academics working on issues related to social, economic and political equality. Along with partners and communities around the world, we develop information, goals and strategies needed to bring about greater equality; we collaborate and coordinate efforts on these issues; and we test and implement the new social, economic and political strategies. We hope you will join us!
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.”
A DEDICATED GOAL ON EQUALITY: IfE is proposing a new Sustainable Development Goal on equality to the UN’s Open Working Group (OWG), at their invitation. While the SDGs do not have the force of law, they set the moral framework for the world on how development is viewed. After taking input from our network members through an online poll, we proposed a stand-alone goal addressing inequalities, and supporting targets that make it possible to monitor progress towards the goal. Click here to read and download the proposal transmitted to the OWG; you can see the results of IfE's poll here. IfE members and partners are strongly encouraged to provide more comprehensive input on the new SDGs through the Stakeholder Forum’s e-Inventory website, a project IfE is partnering with. Click here to register and submit a proposal through that website. You can read more about how to influence the SDGs at this link.
EQUITY ACTION COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHED: How do we reach the goals expressed in the Equity Treaty negotiated by civil society groups in 2012? IfE is convening a global Equity Action Collaborative to follow up on the Equity Treaty. The Equity Action Collaborative will develop a strategic action plan for achieving the objectives spelled out in the Equity Treaty, and coordinate a “collective impact” collaboration in which various organizations around the world take responsibility for action on various parts of the plan. This strategic action plan and collective impact collaboration will be developed with broad-based participation from groups and individuals around the world. But we can’t do this without you! Read more about the project here, sign the Equity Treaty here, then contact IfE to let us know which specific goals you want to work towards. Together we can overturn the inequality paradigm!
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 New Economy project 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 New Economy project and 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: