Picture of the audience from Speak to Power Jan 2019 photo credit Boris Burner

Ahead of Davos, Kensington and Chelsea hosts Speaking to Power Festival as part of global mobilisation against inequality


18th January 2019

Ahead of Davos, Kensington and Chelsea hosts Speaking to Power Festival as part of global mobilisation against inequality

Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, communities are mobilising in cities around the world on Saturday 19th January, as anger about shocking levels of inequality grows. In the UK, The Equality Trust and The Playground Theatre are hosting the inaugural Speaking to Power Festival in Kensington and Chelsea, London’s wealthiest and most unequal borough. Local schools, musical and theatrical groups, poets,health workers, activists and filmmakers will be coming together to stand in solidarity with people around the world and to demand a fairer future for the UK.  

As the world’s corporate and political elite cosy up to each other in the exclusive Swiss ski resort, there will be gatherings around the world on mountains of a very different sort – the mountains of garbage and slums that millions call home.The Fight Inequality Alliance, a growing global movement comprised of trade unions, grassroots campaigners and leading international and national non-profit organisations will host a week of action (18-25 January) calling for an end to `the Age of Greed’, to coincide with, and counter, the meeting of the world’s rich and powerful. The week of action will see a vibrant mix of activities taking place in over 30 countries across the world. From Delhi to Dandora, thousands will gather in slums and towns across the world in contrast to the opulence of Davos, putting forward their solutions to extreme inequality.

Globally, some of the groups involved include Greenpeace, ActionAid, Oxfam, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, Femnet, Global Alliance for Tax Justice and the International Trade Union Confederation. The Alliance points out that the global inequality crisis is reaching new extremes, undermining global efforts to end poverty and marginalisation, advance women’s rights, defend the environment, protect human rights and democracy, prevent conflict, and promote fair and dignified employment. Campaigners are calling on governments to curb the murky influence of the super-rich who they blame for the Age of Greed, where billionaires are buying not just yachts but laws. They are demanding measures such as minimum living wages, an end to corporate tax breaks, higher taxes on wealth, capital and profits of the richest companies and individuals to enable quality public services for all, and a limit on upper pay levels.

Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, which coordinates the Fight Inequality Alliance in the UK said:

“It’s clear that inequality is damaging our society and that people want action. While the average FTSE 100 CEO takes home 133 times the salary of the average worker, it’s clear that the system is broken. People in London are joining those in Manila, Delhi, Nairobi,Guadalajara, and other cities to mobilise for a fairer future.”

Njoki Njehu, Africa Coordinator for the Fight Inequality Alliance said:

“The absurdity of elites ‘solving’ inequality amidst the extravagance of Davos is clear for all to see. We’ve calculated that the wealth of the world’s 2,208 billionaires is now five times the GDP of the whole of Africa. Davos can never be the answer to inequality because the problem is caused by the elites at Davos. The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. It’s in their interests to maintain the system that gifts them this obscene wealth. Governments around the world must listen instead to their citizens, and end the Age of Greed. Our message is that the solutions to inequality need to come from those who are at the frontlines of it, not the 1% that caused it.”

Jenny Ricks, global convenor of the alliance, stresses the gendered dimension of inequality:

“Women, especially women of colour, are the hardest hit by rising economic inequality: they are the workers in the most precarious employment; they suffer the most from cuts in public services; much of their work, paid and unpaid, is not recognised and rewarded. Whilst men at Davos have lots of warm words about women’s empowerment, they are the same people who push for corporate tax exemptions which take away resources needed to advance equality.”

Filipina activist and co-founder of the Alliance, Lidy Nacpil said:

“What history has taught us is that only when people join together from the grassroots up, mobilising and organising to build power and demand accountability and greater equality, will things change. We know that the change we need won’t be given to people – it will be won by people. That’s why we’re coming together and making our voices heard.”


Notes to Editors

1. Photos and video footage of the featured events below will be available from Monday 21 January. The running order for the Speaking to Power event is here

14:30 – 15:00        Introduction from Anthony Biggs and MC Happy
                             Children’s craftivism and solidarity quilt

15:00 – 16:15        ChickenShed – ‘Dreams of freedom’ – parents and children’s drama workshop

16:15 – 17:00        BREAK

17:00 – 17:30        Introduction from Anthony Biggs and MC Happy
                             Opening performance by Portobello Live Choir

17:30 – 17:45        Animation produced by mental health service users, followed by poetry performance from Martin Sutherland

17:45 – 18:45         ‘My Grenfell Year’ film screening and discussion with activists

18:45 – 19:00        Poetry from Eric Holmes

[Followed by 1 minute’s silence and 1 minute’s noise]

19:00 – 19:30        BREAK

                              DJ Groovemaster Martin playing through break, evening food is served
                             Global solidarity videos from Newham, India, Zambia, Kenya, Mexico and London.  

19:30 – 20:00         ‘Dream of a King’, Christopher Tajah

20:00 – 20:45         ‘People Before Profit’ discussion panel

                               Featuring Filipino Labour Leader Luke Espiritu, Wanda Wyporska, and Koldo Casla (Just Fair)

20:45 – 21:00        Paulette Tajah – music 

21:00 – 21:20         Isatta Sheriff – music 

2. Activists from around the world are available for comment or to interview on the events, inequality, Davos and the WEF. In the UK and Europe, contact info@equalitytrust.org.uk

3. Featured events (19th January) – please contact us for more details:

In India, the keynote event in a Delhi slum will combine music, stand-up comedy and speeches on different dimensions of inequality. The main draw is Rahul Ram’s social satire Aisi Taisi Democracy about inequality and accompanied by puppetry, song, dance and music interspersed with speeches by India’s leading networks.  This will be accompanied by mobilisations in 20 of India’s 29 states during the week to demand a fairer, more gender just and equal India.

In Kenya, Dandora slum in Nairobi (the location of East Africa’s largest dumpsite, with 2000 tonnes of waste being dumped there daily despite it being full) will play host to the Usawa Festival (or Equality Festival), where hip hop star Juliani will perform, and alliance members will create a space for people to bring forward their solutions to inequality.

In Mexico, the city of Guadalajara will host a walk called ‘From el Colli to Davos’. It starts from a hill where rural and indigenous migrants settle informally, expelled from the city and deprived of opportunities and services for a better life. It will culminate with a number of cultural activities, including a hip-hop and art contest and gathering people’s demands for change.

In the Philippines, there will be a festival between two adjoining communities, Baseco and Parola in Manila, that contrast starkly with the high-rise landscape of the city centre. Through music, cultural activities and discussion, people will raise their experiences of inequality and their demands for change.

In Zambia, there will be a festival in Shang’ombo, one of the poorest and most neglected districts of Zambia (a population of over 100 000 people, not connected to the power grid, no tarred roads, inadequate health care, only 20% of people have access to water). The festival will highlight how politicians and elites make promises here during election campaigns and then forget the people, as well as people’s stories of inequality and their solutions. It will feature music stars such as Maiko Zulu.

4. About the Fight Inequality Alliance (www.fightinequality.org)

The Fight Inequality Alliance is a growing group of leading international and national non-profit organisations, activists, human rights campaigners, women’s rights groups, environmental groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions and social movements that have come together to fight the growing crisis of inequality. The Alliance has hundreds of member organisations in over 30 countries.

For more information please contact the Fight Inequality Alliance communication manager, Zubair Sayed, via email at zubair.sayed@fightinequality.org or call or Whatsapp on +27 72 456 3036