Just three years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed February 20th as the World Day of Social Justice, which will be observed for the second time in 2010. Although not a controversial subject, the term “social justice” means different things to different people. Generally speaking, the concept refers to policies that ensure equality and fairness to all people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, economic class, nationality or religion.
It also includes every individual’s right to speak out, vote, participate in the political process, and join an organization of their choosing. Social justice also entails economic rights for all people, including the right to a good-paying job, health care, education, housing and an overall decent standard of living.
Sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? But for many people in Canada and other countries around the world, many of these rights have generally been achieved. It certainly didn’t come about overnight, and there’s a lot more work to do right here in Canada with regards to issues like equal rights, homelessness, and poverty, but just think of the huge progress we’ve made over the 100 years, or even 25.
On this World Day of Social Justice, states around the world are invited to devote this day to the promotion of concrete national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development. As recognized by this Summit, these goals aim to build solidarity, harmony and equality both within and among countries throughout the world.
To achieve “a society for all,” governments make a commitment to the promotion of social justice at national, regional and international levels. They also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equality and opportunity for all. This is especially important. Since World War II, the world has become a more unequal place, not only within countries, but between the wealthy “North” and the Global South. Certain policies have made these problems even worse, and only recently have governments acknowledged this problem and have begun to work together to find solutions.
Governments have also recognized that economic growth should promote equity and social justice, and that a “society for all” must be based on respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The observance of the day should contribute to the further consolidation of the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, promotion of full employment, decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.
What is most interesting about this struggle for social justice is how similar it is throughout the world. Whether you live in Scandinavia, the Middle East, or South America, all people want to be treated fairly. Everyone wants to live in a decent society, where children can go to school, where people can access health care, and where citizens can vote freely and participate in the role of government.
This may sound like a dream. But as we see from history, by working together, dreams can come true.
“Together We Can Make A Difference”