Social Justice vs Inequality
Social justice is a term used more and more recent days. But what exactly does it imply? Probably different people interpret it in different ways but one thing we can all agree on is that the backbone of social justice is equality.
Inequality takes many forms and strikes in different aspects of human rights including access to education, employment possibilities, expression of sexual orientation and religious beliefs amongst others. Fighting for social justice would include making sure those basic human rights can be practiced freely.
It would also put racial, religious, ethnic, and gender-based discrimination behind. Achieving this does not happen in a day and it is a constant process of challenging assumptions and controversial belief systems. There are organizations putting a lot of effort into getting closer to a better reality where inequalities are eradicated and we think it is important to talk about them.
Missing the linchpin
Having one of the above-mentioned basic needs for a normal life taken away unavoidably leads to complications with the rest of them. We cannot expect employment possibilities to be present when access to education is limited or missing. Allowing people to freely express and develop their creativity, keeping an open mind, and being well-aware of their rights, possibilities, and capacity for development are things that access to learning opportunities ensures.
Lack of education and special skills training, on the other hand, is a serious drag-down for many people (and economies). Apart from creating a serious limitation for work possibilities and self-sustainability it also affects self-value and self-worth evaluation limiting capacities for development even further. Of course, that is not the only reason injustice continues to persist. Inequality in different social and work-related hierarchical levels is also strongly present in different environments but missing the keystone of getting the essential knowledge and skills necessary for progress is a fundamental drawback.
Research by the UN confirms that one in every five workers continues to live in moderate or extreme poverty. Limited access to work opportunities, stagnant wages, gender or racial discrimination often get on the way to economic independence and improved wellbeing. Those negative elements prevent many people from reaching their full potential and also weaken social cohesion. Injustice is feeding a gap the needs to be closed instead of increased and has an impact on many levels leading to long-term setbacks.
Genuine equality means not treating everyone the same, but attending equally to everyone’s different needs.
A relentless battle
To reach social justice, we need to close this inequality gap and ensure possibilities for development for everyone. That is precisely why the attention towards reducing inequality is brought up in the center of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal number 10 puts its focus directly on inequality elimination but all of the goals touch subjects which lead to social injustice. It is a hard but important task our society needs to recognize.
As much of a challenge as it is, there are organizations that put effort into getting closer to a better reality every day.
In the field of education
When it comes to social justice, education is the fundamental prerequisite of making development and growth possible. Drawbacks in education subsequently lead to loss of individual potential and economic progress which affects not only individuals but whole nations.
Humana People to People and the organizations in their big family are tirelessly working towards improving the conditions of education in various projects related to the issue. Humana People to People India is emphasizing the depth of the problem with projects highly specialized in ensuring there are learning opportunities readily available for people from a young age.
Girls Bridge Education is an extensive project in collaboration with the Indian government. It includes several initiatives aiming to provide academic and social support to girls aged 9 to 14. Humana acknowledges the existence and effects of gender inequality in education and therefore puts a lot of their efforts into contributing to equal learning and future employment possibilities for girls.
Apart from supporting the youth in schools, Girls Bridge Education is a project that also works together with the Out-Of-School Children initiative. This is a project focused on supporting and guiding street children and former delinquents in their development and giving them the environment they need to stabilize their lives. In this way, education becomes inclusive and gives equal opportunities to youngsters in different vulnerable positions.
Vocational education is another tool for fighting social injustice and improving employment possibilities. DAPP Malawi, as well as ADPP Mozambique, have successfully implemented projects that equip men and women of different ages with technical and vocational skills allowing them to increase their productivity and secure employment. Some of the students choose to become self-reliant and start their own small-scale business or income-generating activities. Nevertheless, the result is a gradual alleviation of poverty and increased economic growth – hundredths of students enroll in the programmes each year and make a positive change in their lives.
In the field of agriculture
The area of agriculture can greatly contribute to reducing the inequality gap. Projects like the Farmer’s Clubs organized by DAPP Malawi and Zambia have proved that farming activities present an opportunity for self-sustainability and economic independence.
Farmer’s Clubs have two main focus areas namely scaling out soil fertility management and rural resilience initiative. The aim is to promote utilization of fertile land by pointing out the benefits of small-scale farming and creating a community of support amongst farmers ensuring fast and adequate response to climate change and natural disaster phenomena.
According to DAPP Zambia, the fertility of the land and the vast water resources available give the country a chance to greatly develop and turn agriculture into a major driving force for progress. 58% of the land is suitable for agricultural production and yet only 14% is under cultivation (2018). Small-scale farming was not sufficient to meet household needs for nutrition and there was not enough produce surplus to sell for extra income. That is precisely why the Farmer’s Club project began – it addressed a possibility not taken advantage of and increased the chances for self-sustainability for many Zambian farmers.
In the field of community development
To get closer to a more just society personal everyday experiences shaping the lives of people need to be explored. Getting rid of everyday setbacks slowing down wellbeing and putting people in a mental state that makes them feel incapable or invaluable is the necessary kickstart of equal opportunities for everyone.
Humana People to People India are a good example of how community development-related projects can greatly contribute to reducing inequalities and achieving effective personal and collective improvement.
The Women Empowerment projects touch the aspect of gender inequality and strive to reduce it to the minimum. The projects are united under the goal of empowering women in different aspects. This includes providing quality education, building capacity, and creating awareness on issues damaging women’s dignity and self-worth. This is done via the facilitation of self-help groups that create a sufficient support system for women and with government-supported projects providing training courses for different skills. The project also encourages women to create entrepreneurial business activities offering them economic freedom and increasing their scope of career paths.
Skill Development projects are also implemented to help improve the employability of India’s population including school drop-outs, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, out-of-school children and adults. Offering an alternative for people who have been impeded from pursuing education, cannot afford it, or don’t have the possibility to seek further skill improvement is a way in which those projects aim to reduce inequality and create more possibilities for the population.
Vocational training and digital literacy are areas that are emphasized with the projects and have the most impact on people’s lives.
In the field of health
Health has tremendous power concerning the individual and community wellbeing. It serves as one of the primary driving forces of progress and development. Social justice implies equal access to essential drivers of health such as preventive measures to diseases, clean air, safe drinking water, and nutritious food.
Some of the biggest factors slowing down development and negatively affecting the wellbeing of people in Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique are the outbursts of HIV and Tuberculosis. DAPP and ADPP are fighting the problem at all fronts. Educational projects giving the necessary information about the diseases, prevention initiatives, fighting the further spread, and treating affected people so they could have a normal, productive life are all part of the different HIV and Tuberculosis initiatives.
Apart from those fundamental issues the organizations actively support activities raising awareness and teaching about nutrition and another disease taking its toll on the population – malaria.
Health is a significant factor for social justice – another part of the puzzle that needs to be solved if we want to successfully progress in our battle with inequality.
Sustainability can win the battle
An important thing to note is that a prime element in the effort towards social justice is sustainability. The projects orchestrated by Humana People to People and partner organizations are long-term endeavors implemented in the same areas for a period of 3-5 years before visible impact and development can be noticed.
Social justice and equality are not things that we can achieve in the span of a few days – this is a constant process that requires a sustainable approach to bring a great result. It is something we need to gradually reach and then keep maintaining.
Some Employment Key Facts
- Employment growth since 2008 has averaged only 0.1% annually, compared with 0.9% between 2000 and 2007.
- Over 60 % of all workers lack any kind of employment contract.
- Fewer than 45% of wage and salaried workers are employed on a full-time basis
- By 2019, more than 212 million people were out of work
Source: United Nations
According to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) the 3 economies—people, planets and markets need to work together towards 6 steps for reaching sustainable social justice:
- Aim for well-being for all
- Put prevention before the cure
- Grow the core economy
- Make carbon work for social justice
- Make public service sustainable
- Value what really matter (put priorities straight)
With the epicentre of the COVID-19 crisis quickly moving, Africa and India are preparing for the outbreak to hit them hard. Their response is decisive for the entire world.
Many, if not all, of the modern-day issues are connected. The devastating climate crisis has its roots in the colonialism age, for example.
DAPP Zambia’s Children’s Town project assists in the rehabilitation of former street children and other young people in need of a secure base and vocational training.