Oxfam is an international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty. Oxfam was founded at 17 Broad Street in Oxford, Oxfordshire, in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief by a group of Quakers, social activists, and Oxford academics; this is now Oxfam Great Britain, still based in Oxford. It was one of several local committees formed in support of the National Famine Relief Committee. Their mission was to persuade the British government to allow food relief through the Allied blockade for the starving citizens of occupied Greece. The first overseas Oxfam was founded in Canada in 1963. The organization changed its name to its telegraphic address, OXFAM, in 1965.
Oxfam's programmes address the structural causes of poverty and related injustice and work primarily through local accountable organizations, seeking to enhance their effectiveness. Oxfam's stated goal is to help people directly when local capacity is insufficient or inappropriate for Oxfam's purposes, and to assist in the development of structures which directly benefit people facing the realities of poverty and injustice.
Oxfam has four main focuses for its resources. These are: Economic Justice, Essential Services, Rights in Crisis, and Gender Justice.
Economic Justice focuses on making agriculture work for farmers and agricultural labourers living in poverty and vulnerable circumstances, fairer trade rules for poor countries, and reducing the impact of climate change and energy shocks.
Essential Services focuses on; demanding that national governments fulfil their responsibilities for equitable delivery of good quality health, education, water, and sanitation, supporting civil society organizations and alliances to hold governments accountable for the delivery of these services, and ensuring better policies and more funding from rich countries and international institutions, as well as make sure they honour existing commitments on aid and debt reduction.
Rights in Crisis focuses on improving the ability to deliver better protection and greater assistance, through improving our competencies and capacities, working with and through local organizations, and particularly strengthen the role of women, changing policies and practices of the international humanitarian system to deliver better protection and greater assistance, and working within the framework of human security, with a greater focus on preventing conflict, peace-building, reconciliation and longer-term development.
Gender Justice focuses on supporting women's leadership at all levels to achieve greater power in decision-making and greater control over their lives, increasing the number of women receiving an education (two-thirds of all children denied school are girls), to acquire functional literacy skills so they can work, working to end gender-based violence by changing ideas, attitudes and beliefs of men and women that permit violence against women, and strengthening Oxfam's own learning and capacities on gender to ensure that gender justice is achieved in all our work.