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Economic Equity and Justice

The Open Society Foundations work to promote economic development that advances social and racial justice, sustainability, and democracy.

$136.4M 2020 expenditures for Economic Equity and Justice
13.6% Percentage of global expenditures
17.3% Average annual change in expenditures since 2016

2020 Economic Equity and Justice Expenditures by Region

      Explore our full expenditures by theme and region

      Our Work

      Panama City's skyline behind multiple makeshift homes.
      Panama City's Boca La Caja and Punta Pacifica neighborhood on April 28, 2014. © Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty

      Open Society’s early work on economic issues included support for affordable housing finance in South Africa after the end of apartheid, and work on revenue transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industries.

      Today, we support an array of groups working to advance systemic reform of fiscal systems, corporate governance, and labor rights and protections. We back organizations who share our belief that every person deserves to live a life of dignity, grounded in the rights to equal opportunity and a core set of basic goods and services, regardless of differences shaped by birth, luck, and oppression.

      We also fund technical assistance to governments and policymakers to promote accountable and equitable economic policy. Our impact investment arm, the Soros Economic Development Fund, invests in ventures that deliver positive social change.

      Currently, we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with support for low-income and migrant workers, and with advocacy and impact investments aimed at ensuring equal and affordable access to any COVID-19-related therapies and vaccines. 

      Advancing Worker Rights

      Activists participate in a protest.
      Activists protest to raise awareness of the risks COVID-19 poses to already vulnerable groups, such as incarcerated persons and essential workers, in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2020. © Caroline Brehman/CQ-RollCall/Getty

      We support efforts by communities and workers to organize and have a say in decisions impacting them—a key protection that is increasingly under threat. This includes supporting migrants, women, and people from ethnic or racial minorities whose work is particularly exposed to exploitation. Our grantees include the International Domestic Workers’ Federation, which seeks to organize to protect and advance domestic and household workers’ rights worldwide. 

      Checking Corporate Power

      A farmer holding a rice plant in a field
      A farmer holds a young rice plant in a paddy owned by a foreign company in the Limpopo Valley, Mozambique, on March 24, 2017. © Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

      Our Human Rights Initiative supports activists around the world who are fighting for enforced rules that protect people and the planet from unfettered corporate power. We work to ensure that local communities can use existing laws to protect their lands or livelihoods from illegal seizures or environmental damage. We also seek to raise regulatory standards for corporations and investors, such as backing demands that the European Union require companies to assess and reduce their human rights and environmental risks and impacts.

      Tax and Accountability

      Two people look at papers pinned to a bulletin board.
      Students at a primary school look at a charts displaying information that tracks government funds and expenditure for the school in Kitana, Tanzania, on January 29, 2010. © Andrew McConnell/Panos/Redux

      Our Economic Justice Program has been an active supporter of the Open Government Partnership, an initiative that brings together governments and civil society groups to promote inclusive, responsive, and accountable government—including in tax and budget spending.

      Impact Investing

      Men in a field of marigolds look at a smartphone.
      Two farmers in Junnar, India, on October 28, 2018. © Atul Loke/NYTimes/Redux

      The Soros Economic Development Fund, part of our Economic Justice Program, seeks to make private-sector investments in sectors where established funding pipelines do not exist, and to deliver clear benefits to our target communities, including women; refugees, migrants, and their host communities; and groups that face exclusion on racial or ethnic grounds.

      Using the Power of the Law

      A billboard that reads, “Say no to corruption! Reduce poverty”
      An anticorruption sign at the side of a road in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on July 31, 2006. © Jenny Matthews/Panos/Redux

      Lawyers at our Open Society Justice Initiative continue to develop innovative approaches to using the law to support economic and social rights—from using European law to challenge mortgage-related home repossessions in Ireland, to using rights arguments to challenge corruption in Sierra Leone before West Africa’s regional court.

      Read more

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