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Actionaid logo.svg
Formation 1972
Legal status Non-profit organization
Purpose ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty
  • Johannesburg (Headquarters)
Region served
Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Americas
Child sponsors
Chief Executive
Adriano Campolina
Website ActionAid

ActionAid is an international non-governmental organization whose primary aim is to work against poverty and injustice worldwide.

ActionAid was founded in 1972 by Cecil Jackson-Cole as a child sponsorship charity (originally called Action in Distress) when 88 UK supporters sponsored 88 children in India and Kenya, the primary focus being on providing children with an education.

ActionAid works with local partners in over 45 countries, helping over 15 million impoverished and disadvantaged people worldwide[citation needed]. Its head office is located in South Africa with hubs in Asia, The Americas and Europe.

International reach[edit]

ActionAid International works in more than 45 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Caribbean. The international secretariat is based in South Africa, and operations are organised on a regional basis; managed from Kenya, Thailand, Belgium and Brazil. Within each region there are a number of countries with an ActionAid office that manages the work there. The international functions for campaigning and fundraising are based in the UK, and there is a US office in Washington DC for fundraising and lobbying purposes.

ActionAid's work[edit]

Over time, ActionAid has moved from being a British charity based on child sponsorship to becoming an international coalition fighting poverty across the globe. ActionAid works with poor and marginalised communities throughout the world to help them recognise, promote and secure their basic rights, and control their own development. Its mission is to work with poor and excluded people to eradicate poverty and injustice.

In order to achieve its mission, ActionAid works in the following areas:

  • Women's rights
  • Education
  • Food rights
  • Democratic Governance
  • Emergencies and conflict
  • Climate change
  • Youth

It is also currently focused on 2 international campaigns:

  • Tax Power - to stop big businesses tax dodging and to encourage progressive governmental spending of the subsequent revenue
  • LandFor - to support people's land rights claims (LandFor Communities) and to halt land being grabbed by governments and big businesses.

ActionAid has been fighting poverty worldwide[citation needed] for over 30 years and working in more than 40 countries. The charity works within regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; it is secular and has no political affiliations. The charity campaigns and lobbies against the root causes of poverty, to try to ensure that poor people are treated fairly by governments, companies and international institutions whose decisions affect these people’s everyday lives and their basic human rights. ActionAid works in partnership with communities on practical projects aiming to improve the opportunities for these communities and provide them with facilities such as wells, water systems, schools and health centres in order to tackle the causes of poverty.

Organizational themes[edit]

The themes that ActionAid focuses on are the following:[1]

  • Women’s rights
  • Right to education
  • Right to food
  • Right to human security in conflict and emergencies
  • Right to life and dignity in the face of HIV/AIDS
  • Right to just and democratic governance

Organizational values[edit]

ActionAid’s values are as follows:[2]

  • Mutual respect: Requiring ActionAid to recognize the innate worth of all people and the value of diversity
  • Equity and justice: Requiring ActionAid to work to ensure equal opportunity to everyone, irrespective of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, HIV status, color, class, ethnicity, disability, location and religion
  • Honesty and transparency: being accountable at all levels for the effectiveness of the organization’s actions and open in its judgments and communications with others
  • Solidarity with the poor: The powerless and excluded will be the only bias in ActionAid’s commitment to the fight against poverty
  • Courage of conviction: Requiring ActionAid to be creative and radical, bold and innovative – without fear of failure – in the pursuit of making the greatest possible impact on the causes of poverty
  • Independence: Independence from any religious or party-political affiliation
  • Humility: Humility in ActionAid’s presentation and behavior, recognizing that the organization is part of a wider alliance against poverty.[2]

Women's rights[edit]

ActionAid’s new strategy, “Rights to end poverty”, furthers the women’s rights agenda. ActionAid believes that women’s rights and gender equality help with poverty eradication and hence, women’s rights must be protected and promoted. Women’s rights and gender equality are priorities that lie in the heart of ActionAid’s international agenda. The organization works directly with other women’s organizations in order to advance gender relations. ActionAid wishes to see that women grow in confidence, skills, and knowledge throughout the world.The ultimate goal is that women shape their own destiny, live without fear of violence, and participate effectively in those decisions that affect their quality of lives and livelihoods.[3]

Women's rights within other topics[edit]

Right to education[edit]

  • Support excluded and disadvantaged groups, especially girls, in gaining access to the quality

education which is their right

  • Promote the rights of all learners within education systems and ensure that both boys and girls

understand women's rights, and discrimination and violence are eliminated.[3]

Right to life and dignity in the face of HIV/AIDS[edit]

  • Push for the rights of women and girls
  • Push for freedom from stigma and discrimination
  • Free comprehensive treatment and care should be given to the poor and excluded, especially to women and girls.[3]

Right to just and democratic governance[edit]

  • Capacity building strategy to help women and other poor and excluded people to organize themselves to claim their rights, participate in the decision-making process, and have a say in politics and public policy.[3]

Right to human security in conflict and emergencies[edit]

  • Promote the protection of women and girls during conflicts and disasters
  • Assist women’s groups and civil society to be active in conflict resolution and peace building.[3]

Strategic priorities[edit]

ActionAid pursues four main strategic priorities:Reduction of violence against women and girls; Increase attention and action on women’s rights in relation to HIV/AIDS; Contribution to greater recognition, realization, and protection of women’s land rights; enhance women’s participation in politics.

  • Reduction of violence against women and girls:
    • Increase awareness about violence against women and girls
    • Call for laws that protect the rights of women and girls
    • Improve effectiveness of organizations and movements that focus on violence against women and girls.[3]
  • Increase attention and action on women’s rights in relation to HIV/AIDS
    • Increase awareness about HIV/AIDS as it relates to females.
    • Call for laws that protect the rights of women and girls in the HIV/AIDS context.
    • Improve effectiveness of organizations nad movements that focus on HIV/AIDS as it relates to females.[3]
  • Contribution to greater recognition, realization and protection of women’s land rights
    • Increase awareness about women’s land rights.
    • Call for laws and policies that protect women’s land rights
    • Call for new organizations (and improve existing organizations) that focus on women’s land rights.[3]
  • Enhance women’s participation in politics
    • Increase awareness about women’s leadership, or lack of leadership in the political sphere.
    • Call for laws and policies that will advance their leadership and participation in politics.
    • Call for implementation of existing laws that enhance women’s political participation.
    • Assist other organizations and networks that work in this area of women’s political participation.[3]

Gender mainstreaming at ActionAid[edit]

ActionAid places a major focus on achieving women’s rights. In addition to achieving gender equality in the local communities, ActionAid works towards achieving gender equality in the organization itself. For example, in ActionAid Nepal, the gender imbalance in the organization itself was so great that ActionAid Nepal established a temporary “Women-Only Recruitment Policy”, which raised the percentage of female staff from 12% to 24%.[4] In 1995, in the Beijing Platform for Action (agreed at the Fourth World Conference on Women), gender mainstreaming was identified as the most important mechanism to reach the ambitious goal of gender equality. There are eight major components of gender mainstreaming policy that are implemented by ActionAid.They are as follows:[4]

  1. A dual strategy of mainstreaming gender combined with targeted actions for gender equality.
  2. Gender analysis
  3. Internal responsibility
  4. Gender training
  5. Support to women’s decision making and empowerment
  6. Monitoring and evaluation
  7. Working with other organizations
  8. Budgets[4]
  • ''Dual strategy of mainstreaming and targeting gender equality:''
    • ActionAid has used gender mainstreaming in policies, projects, and programs at all cycle stages.
    • ActionAid also takes actions that target gender equality.[4]
  • ''Gender analysis:''
    • ActionAid provides a gender analysis at all program cycle stages; however, sex-disaggregated data and gender info, along with a gender-sensitive budget analysis are not provided.[4]
  • ''Internal responsibility:''
    • At ActionAid, responsibilities are shared between all staff and gender specialists/focal points.[4]
  • ''Gender training:''
    • At ActionAid, there is an understanding and implementation of gender policy for staff and counterparts.
    • There is also staff/counterpart gender training/skills.[4]
  • ''Support to women’s decision-making and empowerment:''
    • ActionAid strengthens women’s organizations through capacity building and training.
    • ActionAid offers support to women’s participation in decision making and empowerment.[4]
  • ''Monitoring and evaluation:''
    • ActionAid contains effective tools for monitoring/evaluation and contains gender-sensitive indicators.[4]
  • ''Working with other organizations:''
    • ActionAid strengthens gender equality by working with government, donors, UN, private sector, and NGOs.[4]
  • ''Budgets:''
    • ActionAid allocates certain financial resources for staff to carry out gender policy.[4]

Rights-based approach[edit]

ActionAid uses a human rights–based approach to eradicate poverty and assist nations in developing through support of their citizens. Its methods include consciousness raising, political organizations, encouraging participation by poor and excluded groups, promoting democracy and holding governments accountable.[5]

Supporting social causes through the mass media[edit]

ActionAid took the initiative and made India's first bollywood film on AIDS titled 'Ek Alag Mausam'. It is a love story about a couple and the denial of basic rights to HIV positive people. It is based on a script by playwright Mahesh Dattani. Jeroninio Almeida, the fund-raising director of ActionAid asserted that a serious subject can be dealt with in an entertaining way, without trivializing the issue. ActionAid spent Rs 50 lakh for the making of the movie.[6]

ActionAid also supported Shyam Benegal's 'Samar', starring Rajit Kapoor and Rajeshwari Sachdev. It is based on the book Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives, written by Harsh Mander. The film raises issues about Dalits.[6]


ActionAid has been criticized for supporting US-led violent regime change in Haiti in 2004.[7]

Charity Navigator recorded that in 2012 ActionAid USA had a high cost of fund raising (24%), with 53% of income spent on projects.[8] This was also reported in an International Business Times article in October 2014, which noted that the "accounting processes the charity uses resulted in its administrative costs appearing to be 'particularly high' in the fiscal year ending 2012, the timeframe Charity Navigator relied on when calculating its current Charity Navigator score."[9] Charity Navigator reports that for 2013 the cost of fundraising for ActionAid USA was much lower (9.4%), with 82.4% of income spent on projects.[8]

ActionAid has been criticized for running misleading safety claims about genetically engineered crops in Africa, spreading unsupported claims regarding adverse affects of the consumption of some genetically genetically modified crops, in particular, the unsupported claim of genetically engineered crops causing tumors and cancer. The organization has apologized for their actions since the publication of the actions in media.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Powered by Google Docs
  2. ^ a b "Who we are". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Powered by Google Docs
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Moser, Caroline; Annalise Moser (July 2005). "Gender Mainstreaming since Beijing: A Review of Success and Limitations in International Institutions". Gender and Development Vol. 13, No. 2, Mainstreaming a Critical Review. Taylor & Francis on behalf of Oxfam GB. pp. 11–22
  5. ^ "Human rights-based approaches to poverty eradication and development" (pdf). ActionAid. 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  6. ^ a b "'Ek Alag Mausam' based on AIDS". Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  7. ^ See Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood (Verso, London, 2008)
  8. ^ a b "Charity Navigator Rating - ActionAid USA". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Connor Adams Sheets (10 October 2014). "Ebola Relief Charities: 5 Aid Groups To Avoid Donating To". International Business Times. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]