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4/20/14

Who are the "Big Men"?

“Of course you would want to be a big man. I want to be a big man. My son would want to be a big man and you would want to be a big man, too.”


It’s a statement that reflects the basic needs and desires of humans. Yet, only so few are able to become ‘big men’. As someone who was not born into privilege, the struggle to gain access to become a big man is a heart wrenching story of limited choices, often dangerous and uninformed, When an American company finds oil sources in a the country of Ghana, a war wages with several battles swirling the influence of Ghanaians, economics, world powers, and conniving players thirsty for power, money, and stability.

The documentary BigMen premiered in Chicago on August 18th at Facets Multi-Media. Director Rachel Boynton attended Q&A sessions after each showing of the film on both Friday and Saturday. Her stature is deceiving, she is a powerful woman who braved forces beyond her control to film and cover a story that most would not find attractive. Covering the fight over natural resources becomes increasingly important with a growing population that needs sustenance.

Oxfam is proud to support the work of Rachel Boynton with her second documentary Big Men. The film will continue for the following show times! Buy tickets here.
the theater of online
Facets Multi-Media
1517 W. Fullerton Ave.
Sunday, April 20- 1, 3, 5, & 7pm
Monday, April 21- 7 & 9pm
Wednesday, April 23- 7 & 9pm
Thursday, April 24- 7 & 9pm 


To read more about Oxfam's work with resources and international communities, please visit the Natural Resources and Rights page. 



-MN

3/18/14

Sugar Can Be Sweet! An Update for Behind the Brands

From the Behind the Brands website

"After nearly 6 months of campaigning, the world’s second largest food and drink company agreed to a zero tolerance policy on land grabs and for its bottlers to do the same.

“Consumer power just got a little bit stronger,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. The second biggest food and beverage company in the world has committed to put its full weight behind preventing land grabs in its supply chain. Suppliers who want their ingredients to be used in everything from Pepsi Cola and Doritos to Gatorade and Mountain Dew must now ensure their land is acquired responsibly.
 
“This would never have happened without hundreds of thousands of people standing up to insist that companies respect the rights of people in their supply chains. No company is too big to listen to its customers. Together we can transform the food industry if consumers demand it.”

PepsiCo’s announcement comes on the heels of similar commitments made by the Coca-Cola Company in late 2013 after just one month of your campaigning.

And Associated British Foods (ABF), the other company you’ve been calling on to act, recently created new policies committing to the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which helps ensure communities are consulted and must give consent before the land they are using is sold. Oxfam is currently in dialogue with ABF-owned Illovo, the largest sugar producer in Africa, to encourage them to take further steps to implement this policy.

So what exactly have they committed to?

Oxfam welcomes PepsiCo’s commitment to “zero tolerance” for land grabbing, including commitments to:
  1. Adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and require that its suppliers, including bottlers, do the same.
  2. Disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar.
  3. Conduct and publish social, environmental and human rights assessments, including into land conflicts.
  4. Engage with governments and international bodies to support responsible land rights practices.
  5. Engage with suppliers regarding the cases in Brazil and Cambodia highlighted by Oxfam’s Nothing Sweet About It report to pursue resolutions that respond to community concerns.
We’ll be closely tracking PepsiCo to make sure they follow through on their promises - see the roadmap here.

What does this mean for farmers and their communities?

As one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world, PepsiCo has immense power to influence its suppliers and other companies in the industry. As a result of these commitments, better measures will be taken by PepsiCo to avoid land conflicts that drive farmers off their land and out of their homes.
“We applaud PepsiCo’s important step forward in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs,” said Byanyima. “We will monitor the actions the company takes to follow through on this commitment. In particular we will continue to advocate, along with local partners, for appropriate resolution for the communities in Brazil and Cambodia who continue to struggle to regain the rights to their land. Other companies must now follow PepsiCo and Coca-Cola’s lead and transform the industry’s approach to land rights”.

Thank you

Sweet

Without your voices, this would not have happened. So we need you to be ready to speak out again in May when we launch our next action on the injustice of climate change."


What to Post on Social Media
We’d love your help to celebrate, spread the word and thank your supporters. Please post the following on social media.

Twitter:
  • WIN! You spoke, @PepsiCo listened! (link to blog) RT to share the news! #behindthebrands
  • GREAT NEWS: @PepsiCo have committed to zero tolerance of land grabs! (link to blog) RT to share the news! #behindthebrands

Facebook:

  • You spoke, PepsiCo listened!After nearly 275,000 of you took action PepsiCo have committed to put its full weight behind preventing land grabs in its supply chain. Suppliers who want their ingredients to be used PepsiCo’s products like Pepsi Cola, Lays and Doritos must make sure they commit to the zero tolerance approach to land grabs. Find out exactly what the biggest food and drink company in the world has committed to in our blog (LINK) – and SHARE this post to share the great news!
  • PepsiCo, the world's 2nd largest food and drink company, has listened to nearly 275,000 of you and committed to a zero tolerance policy on land grabs throughout their supply chain!  Following your pressure, PepsiCo will be making sure it's sugar, and other ingredients in its products like Pepsi Cola, Doritos and Tropicana, does not lead to farmers and communities being kicked off their land and out of their homes. You made this happen - so find out exactly what's been committed to and how we'll make sure they stick to their promises here - and SHARE this post to share the great news!

 

3/14/14

South Sudan: Internal Destruction of New Country

By Ayet Ujwok, Volunteer with Chicago Oxfam Action Corps

“Oh God! We praise and glorify you, for your grace on South Sudan. The land of great abundance, uphold us united in peace and harmony.” The spectacular words for a new beginning for South Sudan. The beginning phrase of the South Sudanese national anthem was debut on July 9, 2011 when the country finally gained its independence. One might think that with such strong words, comes a strong nation but that posed contradiction especially within the past year.

When South Sudan gained its independence from the Sudan, unity and prosperity was what the country had to look forward to. For numerous years, South Sudan has lived behind the shadow of Sudan and were marginalized for years. The main separation is the cause of ancestry and religious belief. The north is mainly of Arab descent and Muslim and the South is mainly Christian.

As far back as the 1950’s, South Sudan tried to gain independence from the British. The British did not consider the southern needs but yet granted the Sudan to be their own country. After decolonization, most power was given to the north where the capital of Sudan is –Khartoum. Many of the distress caused in South Sudan may have begun from the north but they are not completely to blame.

In 1991, a Sudanese Civil War took place. Fighting breaks out again between north and south Sudan, under leadership of John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), after Sudanese President Jaafar Numeiri abolishes South Sudan's autonomy. Dr. John Garang worked toward liberating South Sudan from the north. This attempt lead to war in Sudan causing many Sudanese refugees, like myself, to flee to the US. This war ended in 2005, but did it really end?

When South Sudan gained their independence on July 9, 2011, the late Dr. John Garang’s second in command, Salva Kiir Mayardit, was elected president and had elected Riek Machar as vice president. The country was in utter excitement and I recall my mother weeping in joy while talking to her relatives in South Sudan about how happy they were to finally be separated from the north.

Since the independence, to the outside world, South Sudan seemed like it was in good condition. One might not have realized that within such a small country, there was much division due to tribal differences. There are over 60 tribes in South Sudan, many of which have been in conflict for decades. This aspect of South Sudan worried the people even after independence. The fear of fighting the north may have been over, but a new chapter of fighting amongst each other had just begun.

The unfortunate events that took place in December 2013 became what the South Sudanese people feared the most –fighting amongst each other. It began when President Salva Kiir had relieved Riek Machar of his vice presidential duties a few months earlier. The president claimed that the attacks made on the government was a coup developed by former vice president Machar against the government. Keep in mind that these two politicians were of opposing tribes that have been in dispute for years –the Dinka tribe and Nuer tribe.
On December 16, 2013 sporadic attacks were taken upon the streets of the capital city, Juba. The fighting quickly spread to South Sudan’s upper and western states of Unity, Jonglei, Benitiu and Bor. Hundreds of innocent civilians were murdered and thousands displaced from their homes. The unfortunate political conflicts of Kiir and Machar has left many Southern Sudanese with lost hope for prospering the newly independent country.

Currently, peace talks are being negotiated in Ethiopia to end the fighting. South Sudan worked so hard for separation from the north. The recent killings of the innocent has left the country in heartache. If South Sudan cannot compromise the tribal and political differences, the country will eventually collapse. That beautiful national anthem needs to be revived for the country to move forward.

For more information on Oxfam International's efforts with Sudan, please visit their website here 

3/5/14

In time for International Women's Day, In Congress

Who wants to read a policy brief on investing in women for the 302a allocations of the current budget and appropriations bill? If you do, you should probably lobby with the Chicago Oxfam Action Corps. If you don’t, here is the ask for our current petition:

Oxfam America launched a new petition ten days ago, asking Congress to support poverty-focused aid, especially to invest in women world-wide. While this premise is simple, the topic is complex and features research to deem value in investing in women and to show efficacy of specific programs.

Currently the FY2015 budget is going through Congress. Oxfam is focusing on the State, Foreign Operations and Related programs funding. This includes budget for assistance to fight poverty and placate disaster situations internationally. We want to maintain, if not grow, the amount of budget going towards Development Assistance and Humanitarian Assistance. Both combine proactive treatment towards poverty and reactive assistance when disaster strikes. As research shows, both are effective and contribute to saving lives.

Specifically Oxfam targets Congress to
  • Keep full funding for Feed the Future at $1.2 billion, to invest in self-sufficiency of women and farmers everywhere
  • Address climate challenges by investing $190 million for climate adaptation programs at USAID
  • Build resilience while saving lives when rebuilding communities struck by disaster in requesting $2.1 billion for International Disaster Assistance


At a glance these amounts seem large for the budge. It certainly deals with more than the average salary of a citizen. However, all this funding pertains to less than 1% of the budget! We live in a world of billions of people and we won’t meet most. But when we share a table of resources with strangers, it’s best to strategize an effective approach to allocating resources, investing in the future, and taking a seat at that table for billions of people. It is logical to continue investing in effective programs while investing in people who just need an opportunity, and it is kind hearted.

Please join us and support women farmers everywhere by investing in the right progams that showcase efficiency and allow individuals to flourish in a fruitful way.
Sign the petition online here

Questions?

Contact Chicago@oxfamactioncorps.org