THE BLOG

My Top Campaigns of 2013

02/01/2014 17:19 GMT | Updated 04/03/2014 10:59 GMT

2013 has been a great year for activism. Throughout the world people power has been rising up and inspiring change; from mass protests in Brazil to challenge rising bus fares, to a little old mosque in York which challenged perceptions by serving tea and custard creams to members of the EDL. Of course 2013 will also be most notable as the year we lost Nelson Mandela. I remember hearing him speak on a cold February day in 2005 in the middle of Trafalgar Square at the Make Poverty History rally. I didn't know it at the time but that speech would mark the beginning of my own journey into campaigning and activism.

So here are my favourite campaigns of 2013

1 - Somali community take on Barclays Bank

The Issue: In 2013 Barclays Bank made the decision to close down bank accounts for money transfer companies across the UK. Not only was this going to be a big shake up for a multi billion dollar industry but it would cut the lifeline for millions of people in the developing world. The country that was most affected by this decision was Somalia. According to an Oxfam report $162million is sent to Somalia by Somali diaspora in the UK every year using these money transfer companies. The remittances are used to cover basic expenses, such as health care, food, clothing and education.

The Campaign: Members of the Somali community did some impressive organising and a petition on change.org was signed by more than 105,000 people. The petition was delivered to the Prime Minister, a parliamentary debate was kicked off by Labour MP Rushanara Ali and the campaign even got backing from double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah .

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Photograph: Andrew Aitchison/Oxfam

Outcomes: The campaign is still ongoing. Dahabshiil, one of the biggest money transfer companies operating in Somalia, managed to secure a high court injunction to continue the transfers. The UK government has pledged to provide a safe corridor for remittances to Somalia. The fight is not over but for now at least the lifeline for the people of Somalia is still alive.

2 - Women drivers in Saudi Arabia

The Issue: It is illegal for a woman to drive a car in Saudi Arabia - yup you read that right!

The Campaign: In October 2013 women from all over Saudi Arabia turned the keys in their ignitions and took to the roads. Backed by a 17,000 signature petition this protest of women drivers got media attention around the world and the internet treated us to this song.

Outcomes: Although it is still illegal for women to drive, the activists behind the campaign believe the public mood is changing, with many more people including an increasing number of men publicly supporting the lifting of the ban. 2014 could be that year and let's just hope Saudi Arabia does not have to put up with those Shelia's Wheels car insurance ads!

3 - Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign

The Issue: The ten largest food and beverage companies are not doing enough for the world's poorest. They have enormous influence; their policies drive how food is produced, the way resources are used and the extent to which the benefits trickle down to the marginalised millions at the bottom of their supply chains.

The campaign: Oxfam's policy and research teams looked at publicly available information and scored the 10 biggest food companies on their policies of 7 different themes including; transparency, women's rights, land rights and climate change. You can see the full score card here. The public campaign has so far mobilised over 394,000 actions from activists all over the world.

Outcomes: There's lots still to be done but how's this for a campaign win - a quarter of a million campaigners stood up to Coca Cola and in November the company committed to a policy of zero tolerance for 'land grabs'. This ensures that land will not be bought or rented without the full agreement of the people who live and farm there.

4 - The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign

The Issue: Nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night and three million children die from malnutrition every year. With the G8 presidency in the UK in 2013, it was time to have another 'Make Poverty History moment.'

The Campaign: Over 200 NGOs and faith groups came together in a mega coalition to help end one of the biggest scandals of our age - global hunger. Tens of thousands took action signing petitions and tweeting world leaders, writing letters and visiting their MPs and in June 2013, 45,000 people assembled in Hyde Park for a rally involving the likes of Bill Gates and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The campaign aimed to get the Prime Minister and other G8 leaders to put issues of aid, transparency, tax and land grabs on the G8 agenda.

Outcomes: One of the largest campaign coalitions ever formed in the UK, there was a lot to learn from the IF campaign. We saw that NGOs can be a lot more effective when they work together and a whole new generation of campaigners from all walks of life was built. One of the biggest achievements of the campaign was the 'budget moment' when the government for the first time allocated the full 0.7% of GNI towards overseas aid.

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Campaign stunt with Muslim prayer mats Photograph: Rooful Ali/Aliway

5 - No More Page 3

The issue: It is the 21st Century and a major newspaper still thinks it is okay to have topless woman on Page 3.

The Campaign: The campaign started in the summer of 2013 when activist Lucy Holmes found that the largest female image in The Sun was of a young woman showing her breasts, even though Jessica Ennis had just won her gold Olympic medal.

Outcomes:The campaign has had some incredible moments - a massive 130,000 signature petition, backing from heavyweights such as Girl Guiding UK and The National Union of Teachers, student unions have banned The Sun from being sold on campus, and Lego ended their long standing partnership with the paper. My new year's prediction is this campaign is the one to follow in 2014 because I can see a huge victory on the horizon.

Honourable mention:

And finally here is one of my favourite videos of the year which has a dig at stereotypes of Africa in charity fundraising ads.