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CUPE and Oxfam have teamed up to strengthen the fight for strong, accessible public services in Canada and around the world.

Linking experiences at home and abroad is critical,” says Miriam Palacios, Oxfam’s public engagement, advocacy and campaign officer and a member of CUPE’s national global justice committee. “We have learned how women and workers are hurt by privatization in Canada, and we know it’s a similar story in the south.”

Oxfam Canada campaigns co-ordinator and CUPE 2722 member Bill Hynd draws clear links between public services and their impact on women and girls around the world. “If we make school free, the biggest group to benefit are girls. When there’s a ready source of clean water, it frees up girls from having to walk long distances to gather water. When there’s a free clinic to support pregnancy and childbirth, women live better and longer lives. Put simply, public services advance women’s rights.”

CUPE and Oxfam’s joint work includes pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian government to increase aid that focuses on human rights and end poverty through strong public services, not privatization.

The campaign also calls for Canada to use its clout with international agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to stop the practice of tying loans to forced privatization and cuts in social spending. This work goes hand-in-hand with community-based campaigns in the south demanding that governments deliver vital services.

As more people—especially women—gain access to health care, education and clean water, “we are able to generate momentum and build a movement where people are able to exercise their rights, take social action and change their world,” says Palacios.

 Source: Organize magazine, Fall 2007