Many issues connect to social justice. To achieve a just and fair society, racial inequality, gender inequality, lack of access to rights like healthcare, labor exploitation, and more must be addressed. The World Day of Social Justice is a great opportunity to learn more about the facts of social justice issues. Here are ten important ones:
The World Day of Social Justice takes place on February 20th
The World Day of Social Justice was first observed in 2009. It was established by the UN to show the General Assembly’s commitment to social justice. Each year, there’s a different theme based on a social justice issue. The theme for 2020 was “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice.”
The phrase “social justice” is not new
“Social justice” is used so often now, it can feel like a very modern buzzword. For a while, people believed that a Jesuit priest created the phrase in the mid-1800s. “Social justice” actually appears earlier than that in The Federalist Papers. Originally, social justice referred to economic concerns, but its meaning has since expanded to encompass things like gender, race, sexuality, and more.
There are five big issues to watch that impact social justice
According to the UN Foundation, there are five pressing global issues. These include accelerating climate change, inequality, and humanitarian crises. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals is also critical, as the goal is to meet them by 2030. 2020 is also the 75th anniversary of the UN, which means the organization should take a close look at where they’ve been and where they’re going. The UN’s decisions and priorities have a huge impact on global social justice.
For most developed countries, income inequality is growing
According to the 2020 World Social Report, income inequality is increasing in most developed countries, as well as some middle-income countries. That includes China, the world’s fastest-growing economy. More than 70% of the global population is affected by this inequality.
Climate change has a big impact on inequality
The climate crisis plays a significant role in social justice. The most vulnerable people groups face the worst consequences of climate change. Poor countries are becoming poorer, which pauses or even reverses efforts to reduce inequality around the world. Taking drastic action to mitigate the effects of climate change are essential. There will be job losses in certain industries, but the creation of new green jobs will help.
Only a handful of countries give women equal legal work rights
Gender discrimination remains a major social justice issue. One example is with legal work rights. According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law index, women overall only have ¾ of the work rights that men do. Only Belgium, Iceland, France, Denmark, Latvia, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Canada earned a perfect score. In these countries, women are on equal legal standing with men. The index measures things like access to jobs and protections against gender discrimination and workplace sexual harassment.
It will take 100 years before gender parity is a reality
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report, it will be about 99.5 years before women are equal to men. That’s actually an improvement on the 2018 index, which stated it would take 108 years to reach parity. When looking at the data closer, we see mixed progress. In 40 of the 153 countries, gender parity has already been achieved. For the 11th year in a row, Iceland came out on top. Many countries have improved their scores. Globally, however, economic participation and opportunity have gone backward.
Healthcare access is a major social justice issue
Healthcare is one of the Gender Gap Report’s markers, but limited healthcare access or poor care doesn’t only affect women. Globally, of the children under 5 who die each year, 25% of them died from preventable environmental hazards. That includes air pollution and waterborne diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and intestinal infections. For everyone, race, sexuality and gender identity, and economic class are often barriers to quality healthcare. Accelerating climate change also has an impact on human health.
Homelessness is a global issue, but it’s hard to track
Global surveys tracking homelessness happen infrequently. It’s hard to measure because countries define homelessness in different ways. Even within countries, there are varying definitions. Based on existing information, around 2% of the world’s population might lack housing. 20% may lack “adequate housing.” It’s very likely that in reality, these numbers are higher. Cities may under-count to avoid humiliation while people experiencing homelessness avoid officials. This particular social justice issue shows how a lack of good information makes finding a solution much more challenging.
Corporations have a huge impact on social justice progress
Large corporations and firms impact society in significant ways. In 2019, an analysis at the Climate Accountability Institute revealed that since 1965 – which was when politicians and industry leaders knew about the impact of fossil fuels – 20 companies have been responsible for 35% of energy-related carbon dioxide and methane. Corporations also play an important role in income inequality. Because of their power, they hold significant political influence. In many ways, corporate interests have slowed social justice progress. If corporations adjust their tune, they could help achieve justice and equality.