Cardiff residents concerned about spiralling global inequality can find out how ordinary people around the world are fighting to close the gap between the haves and have nots, at a free event organised by Oxfam and ActionAid on Thursday [23 February].
Activists from Kenya and Nigeria will speak about life in their home countries, where despite fast-growing economies millions of people remain desperately poor. Inequality is starkly visible, as wealthy neighbourhoods sit alongside slum communities with no water or electricity.
The event starts at 6pm in a lecture theatre in Cardiff University’s Main Building, and is being supported by University newspaper Gair Rhydd. You can register by visiting www.facebook.com/oxfamcymru and locating the event page.
Last month Oxfam revealed that eight billionaires now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. The charity is warning that a distorted economic model allows an extreme concentration of wealth at the top and traps millions in poverty.
Matthew Hemsley, Oxfam Cymru’s Campaigns and Advocacy Manager, said, “It’s shocking that one in nine people go to bed hungry while a handful of billionaires have more than they can spend. It doesn’t have to be this way. We’re calling for world leaders to fix our economies so they work for everyone and bring the end of poverty closer. We need policies to ensure that workers get a fair wage, big companies pay their fair share of tax, and women get a fair chance to realise their potential.”
A global network of tax havens fuels inequality. Poor countries lose around £135 billion ($170 billion) each year because companies and the super-rich dodge paying their fair share of taxes – money that could fund schools and hospitals.
Wanjiru Kanyiha, a lawyer from Kenya is one of those speaking at the event. She said, “It’s perverse to witness high-rise apartments and multibillion developments going up while people in many parts of Kenya live without the dignity of a proper toilet. This isn’t only about tax justice and inequality – it’s about our lives. It’s about holding people to account to uphold the rights in our constitution.”
Onyinye Okechukwi, campaigner for ActionAid Nigeria, explained her motivation for taking part. “This is an opportunity for me to be a voice for the poor women who are dying in childbirth and the 10 million Nigerian children who are out of school because the government has given away resources meant to provide them with these basic life necessities.”
The activists are calling on the UK Government to help close loopholes in global tax laws so that poor countries can claim what they are owed. Four countries linked to the UK, including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, have been labelled among the world’s worst tax havens.
The week-long tour begins in Edinburgh on Monday and also includes Oxford, Manchester and London.
Thousands of people around the UK have signed a petition calling on the world’s billionaires to help do their bit to end extreme inequality.