In a talk aptly named “Inequality and the Injustice of Poverty” on Tuesday night, President and CEO of Oxfam America Abigail Maxman challenged her audience of around three dozen students and professors in Kresge Auditorium to consider the challenge that these two forces pose today.
“The gap between the richest and the poorest has reached levels we’ve never seen in modern history,” said Maxman. “The country in which you are born, and the family into which you are born, determines your life in more ways than ever before.”
Originally founded in 1942 as the Oxford Famine Relief Committee, Oxfam is an international organization aimed at eradicating global poverty. One of Oxfam’s key tenets is that poverty arises from a violation of fundamental human rights: people are denied access to food, education or a living wage. Under this framework, poverty isn’t simply an economic problem—it’s a social injustice.
“Poverty is not inevitable. It’s a result of human action and inaction,” said Maxman. “We know we live in a world … where there is enough resources and food for everyone to have a decent and safe life. Yet, today we find that resources are concentrated in the hands of just a few.”
Maxman spent much of her talk addressing the impact of economic inequality on poverty and how the focus on economic growth has left many behind.
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