We Challenge inequality & poverty

We believe in the inherent dignity of all people. Yet around the world, billions of people are excluded from full participation in the political, economic, and cultural systems that shape their lives.

We view this fundamental inequality as the defining challenge of our time, one that limits the potential of all people, everywhere. Addressing inequality is at the centre of everything we do.

Areas where we focus are;

Civic Engagement & Government

The promise of government is that it will work for all people—that government will reflect the will of the people, serve and be accountable to people, and secure basic rights, freedoms, protections, and opportunities for all people. But in too many places, this promise is broken. Government belongs to the few, not the many. Privileged groups have more influence on the composition and practice of government, while ordinary people’s sense that they lack influence undermines their aspirations and engagement, creating a dynamic in which more representative and responsive government is neither demanded nor delivered. The result is a citizenry that is disillusioned, distrustful, and disaffected.

We see three main problems driving this dynamic. First, the rules of the game of political participation do not create a level playing field. There are too many barriers, often deliberate, to having everyone’s voice and vote count. The rules regarding the ability of civil society to speak out and organise people are a particular challenge. Second, most people do not experience government as responsive, accountable, or able to help solve their biggest problems. Public policies need to better serve the public interest. Third, the ways in which government raises and spends money too often fail to serve broader public interests. Moreover, the fact that budgets and taxes can be highly technical and hidden from public view makes it difficult to scrutinise what’s going on, spurring further disengagement.

Free Expression & Creativity

Creativity and free expression play a central role in weaving the fabric of a just society—a society in which all perspectives are included. It is through the stories we tell—about ourselves and our communities, how we imagine the future, and how we understand the changes around us—that we make meaning of our world and expand our identification with others. These stories challenge stereotypes and received wisdom and upset the roots of inequality. Indeed, cultural change often precedes transformations in other spheres, heralding and making space for new social, political, and economic thinking.

Our goal is to support storytelling that increases understanding of the human condition by bringing forth voices that have been marginalised, and which challenge traditional notions of identity by asserting new narratives. The transformative potential of this kind of truth-telling is precisely what puts creative and free expression under threat. In many societies, we see a backlash against diversity, inclusion, and fresh ways of thinking that is being expressed in the silencing of artists, journalists, and filmmakers and the destruction of great works of art. In this climate, promoting and protecting creative expression is more essential than ever.

We are committed to strengthening the networks that unite artists, filmmakers and journalists around the world, protecting storytellers under threat, illuminating the root causes of injustice and elevating the leadership and expression of people whose voices have long been suppressed.

In all our work, we place a high value on equity and inclusion—what’s often referred to as “diversity”—and seek to support organisations whose own values in this area are demonstrably aligned with ours

Equitable Development

Development depends on resources, both natural and human, to power social and economic progress. But the rules of the game—especially those concerning community revitalisation and the control and use of land and other natural resources—too often magnify economic, social, and political inequality. Ensuring that future generations can live in just, prosperous communities and benefit from a sustainable environment will require a collective commitment to confronting inequality.

In development, progress can be a two-sided coin. Urbanisation, for example, is often associated with economic growth, expanded political participation, and greater cultural tolerance. But the tensions that come with rapid urbanisation and uneven development make it difficult to ensure access to opportunity and a decent standard of living for all. The shortage of safe, healthy, and affordable housing creates crushing burdens and instability for workers and families. Segregation inhibits opportunity, concentrates poverty and distress, and undermines a politics of shared interests, rooted in the common good.

Meanwhile, natural resource wealth should generate broad benefits, but it is often linked to serious threats, including large-scale deforestation, the displacement of poor communities, the flow of illicit money across borders, corruption, and climate change. The lands and heritage of indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable. And reversing this “resource curse” is a major challenge, especially in developing countries.

Gender, Racial, & Ethnic Justice

Over the past 50 years, powerful legal and policy changes—together with evolving public attitudes—have greatly advanced the rights of women and of racial, caste, and ethnic groups. Still, we know that discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and indigenous or migrant status persists in application of the law, in cultural practices, and in the routines of everyday life. Solely because of their identities, millions of people have unequal access to resources, power, representation, and justice. Many lack the ability to express themselves and move freely in their communities.

While governments acknowledge their responsibility to all people, in practice their policies can reflect long-standing prejudices. In some places, government’s obligation to protect citizens is used as a rationale to suppress the rights, liberties, and opportunities of groups that already face discrimination. For women and girls, tensions between aspiration and reality are particularly acute: Even as national and global development efforts hail women and girls as the backbone of progress, in many places they face discrimination and violence on multiple levels, sometimes sanctioned by the state.

These problems are not new. But as demographic shifts and the global flows of people, information, and ideas challenge entrenched norms and break down boundaries, we see new opportunities to fight discrimination and realise a more inclusive society.

Inclusive Economies

In an inclusive economy, opportunity and prosperity are widely shared regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or caste. However, rising inequality across the world threatens greater economic inclusion by stifling opportunities for the majority of people, and undercutting social and economic progress.

But inequality is not inevitable. It is strongly influenced by policies and business practices that shape the nature of work, the strength of social protection, and the allocation of investment capital. And when policies and practices do not create level playing fields or are unevenly enforced, economies end up excluding people and discouraging innovation.

In wealthy economies like the UK, weak labour standards, a poor safety net, and the precarious nature of employment with millions of people working less than they would like or without benefits have contributed significantly to rising inequality. Meanwhile, in developing countries, billions of people still lack access to basic rights, meaningful livelihoods, technologies, and markets.

Globally, these challenges are exacerbated by capital markets that focus too much on maximising short-term returns for shareholders and too little on creating equity and long-term value for all stakeholders.

Internet Freedom

Across the globe, the Internet has profoundly changed how we work, learn, and express ourselves. Its rapid growth has created challenges and opportunities in every area of contemporary life, from self-representation and education to economic development, political engagement, civic participation, and creativity. It has connected us with each other and sparked bold thinking about how to create a more fair and just world.

But the digital world is not neutral, and its benefits are not equally shared. Too many people—particularly those who have been historically excluded or marginalised—are unable to access and influence digital platforms. As technology continues to reshape relationships between citizens, governments, and corporations, struggles to control the Internet are intensifying around the world. Globally, governments and private corporations effectively control access to and functions of the Internet. Ubiquitous data collection and automated decision making raise serious concerns about privacy and equality in jobs, criminal justice, housing, health, education, civic engagement, finance, and expression. To ensure that the Internet develops to meet the needs of the public, we need effective, technically sophisticated, diverse, and globally distributed organisations working to advance stronger, more inclusive Internet policy.

Youth Learning & Opportunity

Today’s youth are growing up in a world rich with possibility. They have the potential to be a force for progress and positive social change in their families, communities, and the world. Yet too many of them face daunting obstacles in obtaining the opportunities they need to develop their full potential. Prevailing attitudes often dismiss and devalue young people, and with limited power, they face challenges in making their needs known and their voices heard.

Despite global progress in improving access to primary education, the needs of older youth have largely gone unaddressed. In their teens and 20s, youth make important decisions about education, work, health, and civic engagement that shape their own futures and those of the societies in which they live. Institutions and the culture at large must support young people’s transition from school to work and facilitate their participation in civic life.

But too often, youth-serving education and employment systems are weak and disconnected, making it harder for young people to succeed and lead. This is especially true for young people who experience an absence of opportunity because of poverty or whose challenges are compounded by their identities. For millions of young people, the consequences are dire and real, and affect the rest of their lives.

Interested in playing your part?

Terrible may have ambitious goals but together we stand a chance of achieving them!