This year the United Nations commemorates its promotion of justice around the world with the World Day for Social Justice which takes place on the 20 February.
The day marks the efforts of the international community to eradicate poverty, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social justice and wellbeing for all.
For the UN, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of their mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.
The World Day of Social Justice is a call for all countries to take concrete actions that give meaning to the universal values of human dignity and opportunity for all. The focus of this year’s commemoration – achieving social protection for all – is critical to building fairer, more inclusive and equitable societies.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon says that, “the gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing, we must do more to empower individuals through decent work, support people though social protection, and ensure the voices of the poor and marginalized are heard”.
The global statistics on social justice are shocking:
- 1 in 4 people in Sub-Saharan Africa are under nourished, an increase from 176 million in 1992 to 214 million in 2014.
- If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
- In Ireland as of 2015, 1 in every 6 people in the Republic of Ireland is living in what is considered poverty with an income of less than the state pension rate.
Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, paragraphs 187 – 188) reminds us that, “each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society…It means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the development of the poor”.
This year’s World Day of Social Justice provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the roles we have within society and the responsibility to reach out to the world in justice.