Declaration From The Fight Inequality Alliance

Below is the Declaration from the Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA) which came out of the third global gathering of the alliance held in Denmark on 21st and 22nd November 2017. The Equality Trust is proud to be the UK and European convener of the FIA.

Organisers, activists, musicians, poets and community leaders from 17 countries – Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, UK, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe – gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark for a two-day sharing of experiences and planning to fight inequality from local to global level.

The participants are already fighting inequality in many diverse ways including challenging the privatisation of public services, standing up for the rights of women and girls, tackling the power of corporates, fighting for tax justice, fighting for climate justice, demanding minimum living wages, taking action for universal, comprehensive and transformative social protection and many, many others.

This was the third global gathering convened by the Fight Inequality Alliance, a growing global coalition committed to ending the vast disparities of power, privilege, opportunity, wealth, access and control of resources and social status that continue to deprive billions of our people of dignity, social justice and self-determination. The alliance is expanding as many social movements and other civil society groups join and national alliances are being formed in new countries.

We shared experiences about how growing inequality is having a negative impact on our lives and in our society in many different ways. The meeting declared that the growing gap between the privileged, in particular owners of capital, and ordinary people has grown out of control. This is the result of the capture of resources and power by elites, including capture of our politics and politicians. It is also the result of many years of a failed neoliberal economic model, patriarchy, exploitation and colonisation which has enriched the few at the cost of the many.  It is time to demand an end to the age of greed.

This growing gap between the rich and the rest both exploits and can worsen other inequalities of race, caste, gender, disability, sexual orientation or identity, class and ethnicity. This inequality explosion lies behind all of our struggles for a better world, and by coming together to fight for more equality we are fighting for the conditions which will make another world possible.

We heard experiences of fighting inequality from countries across the world. We discussed the growing trends of austerity, right wing extremism, misogyny, sexism and discrimination, and the impunity of many states, corporations and elites. We analysed how in many countries anger towards elites is being maliciously misdirected towards the vulnerable, and towards refugees.  We heard first hand from those who had been leading alliances in different parts of the world, and discussed those experiences and what we can learn as campaigners for change.

We looked at how we can communicate better about the rich and powerful, and their control over our economies. Many of the powerful now identify the problem of inequality, but will not do anything to change the system that created it. We need to do more to show the dark side of how many of the richest have secured their fortunes, whether through inheritance, crony capitalism and manipulation of the market, exploitation, or tax evasion and avoidance – often linked to corruption and abuse of power. We must also shine a light on how the accumulation of wealth and power is often linked to a reliance on the extractive industries; plundering the natural resources of developing countries and entrenching the commodification of the commons around the world.

As we build the power of our movement, we recognised our achievements so far as we seek to build on them. We mapped the activities of the Alliance and members in countries all over the world, from Spain to Kenya. We drew a timeline of our work over the past two years, together with the actions of participants to fight inequality, with examples such as a statement from a global meeting of church leaders and faith based organisations, to protests against the Asian Development Bank. We mapped upcoming opportunities and identified where different alliance members would take leadership in organising and mobilising those moments.

We discussed the development of our regional and national work, looking at common tools and common narratives. We focused specifically on what the added value of the Alliance is to existing struggles. We agreed that inequality is a great connector, drawing together struggles on many different issues and giving us a focus on structural causes. We discussed how an inequality focus brings an analysis of the big winners in our society, and how to target them.

We developed plans for the week of action in January 2018 – we want to continue to build our movement and take forward the activity that took place in 27 countries in the first week of action in January 2017. We want to creatively challenge the rich, signal an end to the age of greed and showcase the voices and solutions to inequality from people on the frontlines to collectively provide a counter narrative to what the 1% are saying must be done to fight inequality. Recognising the short timeframe left until the week of action we all individually committed to take action straight after the meeting to get the organising moving quickly.

We also began developing plans for our second global mobilisation moment for 2018 focussing on the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF taking place in Bali in October. We will use this as an opportunity to collectively challenge these institutions on the stark contradictions between their rhetoric on fighting inequality and their policies and practices around the world which continue to fuel the problem. We will use this as a moment to put forward radical solutions and continue to build our movement across the region. Taking the lead from Indonesian civil society in how they are organising, we will add solidarity and power to their organising, and global pressure and action.

The gathering reasserted some of our founding principles that:

* Those organising at the frontlines of inequality – grassroots organisations and social movements, feminist groups and young people – must also be at the forefront of our efforts

* Real systemic change to tackle the causes of inequality will only come from organising power from below and across borders

The gathering resolved to take action by:

* Building the alliance to add value to our different struggles, and build a common platform for action for us all

*Spreading the campaign to many countries across the world, building on local structures, defining common actions, solidarity moments and messages to creatively challenge the 1% together.

* Working together to communicate positive alternatives to our broken economy, and by giving concrete examples of victories, however small

* Communicating creatively and as widely as possible, by using simple language, and creating assets like films and other images to contrast what it means to be rich and what it means to be poor. We want to put a human face on inequality with people demanding change

* Mobilising together at upcoming moments such as the Asian Development Bank 50th anniversary, the AU summit, Africa Liberation Day, in addition to our two global mobilisation moments

* Develop a youth strategy that puts young people at the forefront of our collective efforts

* Continuing to build national alliances that take on the aspects of the inequality fight that are most important in those countries, connecting to regional and global moments where possible

We left inspired, invigorated and committed to continuing to building the alliance and taking action together to fight for a more equal, just and sustainable world.

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