Oxfam India: It’s time to ‘Close The Gap’ New campaign calls on the public to join a nationwide debate on inequality

Oxfam India: It

NEW DELHI, MARCH 8. As the world marks International Women’s Day today, Oxfam India is launching a new, ground-breaking campaign to start a public debate on issues of inequality, including between women and men. The Close The Gap campaign will invite people from all over the country to call a hotline or use social media to record their views on the massive gender gap that exists in India today and to provide a space for Indian people to question why women are still being treated as second class citizens.

Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India, said, “It is an outrage that in the 21st century, women don’t feel safe when they walk home at night and that women’s representation in places of power is so insignificant. Currently only 12 per cent of the Lok Sabha is made up of women and the figures for other positions of power are even more shocking. Just 5 per cent of the Indian Police Force are women, an especially worrying statistic given the fact that many crimes against women go unreported because they don’t feel safe reporting them to a man.”

The campaign will be launched at an event in Delhi, which will be attended by high-profile men and women from various walks of life including Nandita Das, Chairperson, Children’s Film Society of India; Ms. Kiran Bedi, Founder Member, Navjyoti India Foundation and Ms. Poonam Baruah, Chairperson, Forum on Women in Leadership.

The aim of the campaign will to be use public opinion to try and influence attitudes and behaviours and to push for change in a society where only 5 per cent of women in Indian corporates are a part of the top management and only 8 per cent of judges in the Supreme Court are women. Oxfam India will analyse and combine the comments left on the hotline and use them to influence senior decision makers in the political, social and corporate spheres.

Close The Gap will also kickstart a broader Oxfam campaign against inequality focussing not just on gender inequality but also on inequality based on income, caste, religion, ethnicity, geography, and so on. Nisha Agrawal said “During the last two decade, income and wealth inequality in India has been rising, making us one of the most unequal countries in the world. This comes on top of already high and entrenched inequalities in India where certain groups–such as Dalits, Muslims and tribals-are lagging behind others. We need to ask ourselves why we have such a high tolerance for inequality in India today? Historically, our Constitution and our founders had a very different vision of India-one of a much more equal and just society.

Quoting the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru from “The Discovery of India”, she added : “In India . . . we must aim at equality. That does not mean and cannot mean that everybody is physically or intellectually or spiritually equal or can be made so. But it does mean equal opportunities for all, and no po-litical, economic or social barrier. . . It means a realization of the fact that the backwardness or degradation of any group is not due to inherent failings in it, but principally to lack of opportunities and long suppression by other groups.”

“This Close the Gap campaign is to have conversations and find solutions together of how we can turn that vision into reality today” Nisha Agrawal said in closing.

The Close The Gap hotline will be promoted through billboard advertising, offline events including creative installations in public spaces and through face-to-face engagements run by campaigning youth groups such as Gramvani, OurSay and Purple Mangoes. To join the debate call 011 66030040, visit www.closethegap.in visit the Oxfam India facebook page, contact us on twitter at @OxfamIndia or tweet yourself using the hashtag #closethegap.

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