During Women’s History Month, Oxfam gathered virtually for its annual Sisters on the Planet conference to evaluate the current state of women across the world, and to celebrate some “Champions of Equality” in our own country and beyond.
Jessica Addis contributed to the writing of this piece.
As a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice, Oxfam demands equal rights and equal treatment so that everyone can thrive--not just survive. Highlighting the impacts of COVID-19, harmful immigration policies, and the potential effects of climate change, Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassadors recently came together to envision a future that is equal. We were delighted to honor some of the extraordinary women who have helped trailblaze towards this vision.
We recognize and honor each of these women as “Champions of Equality." They have engaged in countless ways, from bringing resources, opportunities, and access to people and communities in need, to creating inclusive platforms by challenging racial or gender inequality, to promoting equality of opportunity through leadership for directly impacted communities.
Meet our Champions!
Dorothy Oliver, a retiree from the rural town of Panola, Alabama, is best known for her personal campaign to ensure her entire community received the COVID-19 vaccine. A champion for equal vaccine access in underserved communities, she challenged multiple structural barriers to ensure her community was protected. Her story is featured in this short documentary, which showed at the Sundance Film Festival.
Irene Ocwee Trends
A native of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Irene has worked her entire life to give back to her community. She is striving tirelessly to provide social, legal, and educational services to vulnerable families, and address significant inequality gaps in livelihood, health, and education. She founded her school, the Hilder Nursey and Primary School, with the express intent of creating an educational space with low school fees that would be accessible to even the poorest families in her community.
During the pandemic, when Uganda had an unprecedented 22 months of school lockdown, Irene innovated her school’s model, and resourcefully found ways for her entire class of eldest students to graduate. Her school is now among the top schools in the entire country.
A restauranteur and activist, Uyen has tirelessly championed equal opportunities for refugees. In 2021, one day after the Afghan government collapsed, Uyen begin recruiting Vietnamese American families to host Afghan refugees arriving in the US.
She and her friends founded Viets 4 Afghans, a group of Vietnamese community members which immediately provided temporary housing for over 75 Afghan families; it is now an action-oriented volunteer network focused on supporting the Afghan refugee community.
Candace continuously champions equality by fighting for an equal political voice. She is the former mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland where she was the youngest, and first African American, mayor in the city’s 134-year history. She co-founded Our Black Party, and began a to build a vision of a more prosperous country in which not just equality, but equity is the foundation that Black Americans can build on.
As national co-chair of Our Black Party, Candace will help lead a national agenda to create lasting change in the everyday lives of Black people nationwide.
A champion of equal political participation and founder of the award-winning podcast The Brown Girls Guide to Politics, A’shanti serves as the president of Emerge, and is a prolific grassroots organizer. She has covered a range of topics , including voting rights, maternal health, immigration, and the impacts of COVID-19 on tribal lands; and addressed violence against Asian Americans.
She has created a space for women of color to be heard, and to be able to lean into their leadership by learning from other women of color; she also trains new cohorts of women across the country to take their place in government and leadership.