A supporter of Oxfam for more than seven years, actress Scarlett Johansson was motivated to become involved by the organization’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In 2007, she traveled to India and Sri Lanka and met tsunami survivors who were rebuilding their lives after losing their families and livelihoods. In 2011, Johansson travelled to Kenya to see the devastating impact of the severe drought that has hit parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, putting more than 13 million people at risk.
Actress Scarlett Johansson has fundraised for, advocated alongside, and promoted Oxfam since 2005. Johansson was motivated to become involved by Oxfam’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
In 2007, Johansson took a life-changing trip to India and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, she met with tsunami survivors and saw how Oxfam projects such as village irrigation schemes and schools are helping to reconstruct devastated communities. In India, Johansson met girls at an Oxfam-funded school that has enabled more than 1,000 children from the lowest caste to gain a basic education. Johansson made a generous donation, providing three years’ funding for the school. “Once you’ve met amazing people like the Dalit girls I met on my trip, you just can’t turn your back,” said Johansson, "I was shocked by a lot of what I saw, but seeing the fantastic work Oxfam was doing I also felt that there was hope.”
She also met survivors of domestic violence in India who are part of Oxfam’s We Can campaign, which aims to dispel attitudes that support violence against women. In meetings with the Indian prime minister, the US ambassador, and the Sri Lankan foreign affairs minister, Johansson pressed for investment in health and education.
In 2008, Johansson joined other Oxfam ambassadors in calling on heads of state at the G8 in Japan to respond urgently to global poverty, reminding them that the world's poorest people are the most vulnerable to increased food prices and the negative impacts of climate change. In the same year, together with global figures including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Sir David Attenborough, she signed an open letter urging world leaders at the UN meeting in Poland to tackle climate change.
Johansson’s appeal to US consumers on behalf of Oxfam Unwrapped generated more than $100,000 in gifts for Mother’s Day 2009. She has contributed to online auctions with eBay by donating opportunities to attend the premieres of her films “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Iron Man 2.”
In 2010, Johansson supported Oxfam’s Haiti response by recording a public service announcement urging people to give and by donating tickets to the opening night of her play "A View From the Bridge" to a fundraising auction. The face of MANGO clothing line, Johansson has also designed an exclusive handbag for MANGO that was sold to raise money for Oxfam’s efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
In 2011, Johansson joined Oxfam's GROW campaign, saying: “Sharing food is one of life’s pleasures. On a global scale, we don’t share fairly. Close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night. The fact is: the global food system is a broken one. All of us, from Kentucky to Kenya, deserve enough to eat.”
In September 2011, Johansson travelled to Kenya to see the devastating impact of the severe drought that has hit parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, putting more than 13 million people at risk. She visited Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world. Tens of thousands of Somali refugees have fled to Dadaab to escape drought and famine. She also visited the Turkana region of Northern Kenya, where chronic droughts have destroyed people's lives and livelihoods. Johansson saw how Oxfam is helping people with emergency aid - providing clean, safe water, distributing cash to help people meet their basic needs, as well as investing in long term projects to help build communities' resilience to droughts - for example by supporting pastoralists to retrain as fishermen and farmers.
"This is a long-term and escalating crisis exacerbated by political conflict, famine and drought that can no longer be ignored," said Johansson. "Over half the Somalis that have died are children; an entire generation lost. This is no longer an issue that can only garner some attention, some of the time. Extreme action must be taken by the global community now."
Following her trip, the Huffington Post published video footage and Johansson’s own diary entries from Kenya. In addition, CNN will highlight Johansson and her trip with Oxfam in an upcoming segment on Impact Your World during the week of September 25.