OxFam Addresses Inequality in Mexico During COVID-19

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SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut — Oxfam Mexico is part of the Oxfam confederation. The confederation partners work with humanitarian organizations to eliminate global poverty, inequality and hunger issues. These efforts are particularly significant during the pandemic as researchers estimate COVID-19 will push 150 million people into extreme poverty.

Oxfam Mexico was founded in 1996 and focuses on decreasing inequality, gender-based violence and poverty. The organization works to achieve five rights that would help people live sustainable lives with basic social services, security and legal identities. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Oxfam Mexico Research Manager Diego Vazquez explained that the organization’s mission “has always been to address structural issues regarding income inequality and poverty.” Oxfam Mexico and other organizations like it have been advocating for a temporary universal basic income support and a universal health system in Mexico during these trying times.

Oxfam Mexico and The Inequality Virus

Oxfam published an article titled The Inequality Virus in January 2021. It examines how poverty and unemployment rates have increased across Mexico and other countries. The economist survey and research-based article also addressed various COVID-19 related issues, ranging from gender inequality to income inequality. A majority of the economist respondents observed that everything from income and wealth inequality to gender and racial inequality will increase globally during COVID-19. According to The Inequality Virus article, in March 2020, COVID-19 began to impact the income of 740 million women globally, all of whom received approximately 60% less income (equivalent to $396 billion in lost salaries).

Oxfam Humanitarian Action and Disaster Risk Reduction Manager Alejandra d’Hyver spoke with The Borgen Project on the secondary consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained that the organization works with local partner organizations in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla and Guerrero to address inequalities and other COVID-19 obstacles. Oxfam Mexico expanded to work with local partner organizations in the states of “Chihuahua and Estado de México” by the end of 2020.

For instance, Oxfam Mexico works with the Alliance for Risk Reduction and Disaster Recovery to help vulnerable communities with natural disasters and other risks. This is done by training committees in disaster risk reduction and recovery methods and plans. Additionally, the online site for the Oxfam Mexico disaster prevention and recovery program helps spread awareness and advocacy on the prevention and disaster response approach.

Humanitarian Response and Partnerships

Oxfam Mexico currently helps COVID-19 impacted communities by collaborating with 15 female groups within the Inclusive Economies Puebla project. The project focuses on empowering indigenous women with solidarity economic initiatives.

Oxfam Mexico also works to address community inequalities through the Inclusive Economies Puebla Project. It helps female indigenous populations with economic development projects prior to and during COVID-19. Vazquez explained that the approach is funded by the European Union and Oxfam Mexico works “with companies like a cooperative, and social businesses that are led by women” in communities in Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico. Oxfam works “to adapt those projects to the new reality of COVID-19.”

The Oxfam Confederation and Alliances During COVID-19

Following the impact of COVID-19, Oxfam Mexico continues to focus on five areas in its approach, including arts and music, civic engagement, economic development, women empowerment and community development. The From Poverty to Power Oxfam blog continues to report on social issues during COVID-19. For instance, in September 2020, Professor Maria Jose Ventura Alfaro investigated how the feminist solidarity network in Mexico has shown resilience and expanded its work during COVID-19. Alfaro found that 63% of surveyed women older than 15 experienced a form of gender-based violence in their lives.

Additionally, Oxfam International continues to participate in the Fight Inequality Alliance. Moreover, 30 countries including Mexico held the Global Protest to Fight Inequality from January 23 to 30, 2021. The protest promotes inequality solutions and works toward a sustainable economy for all populations.

In 2020, the economy in Mexico was projected to decrease by 9%. The government response toward malnutrition, education and other COVID-19 issues has seen a mixed public response. Long-term effects from COVID-19 unemployment have yet to be determined. In December 2020, Oxfam International warned governments and NGOs about how COVID-19 post-pandemic effects will cause further inequality in the 94 countries that the organization works in. Vazquez said, “all members of the Confederation have roughly the same goals and the same vision as Oxfam International.” He added, “our advocacy strategies and our topics of interest change from country to country.”

A Look Ahead

With 1,771,740 confirmed COVID-19 cases and a rise in inequality and unemployment across Mexico, Oxfam has worked to help decrease inequality in Mexico. Oxfam Mexico supports civil society organizations that work toward eradicating gender-based violence as a strategy to support Mexico.

Moreover, Vazquez explained how implementing the National Care System that is being discussed in Congress can help introduce “a public-funded system to try to address these inequalities” regarding female unemployment and other inequalities. Together organizations and the government could constitute “a whole reform of the social system” in Mexico.

Evan Winslow
Photo: Unsplash

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