World Day of Social Justice will be observed this Thursday, February 20, under the theme Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice.
As Barbados joins the rest of the world to observe the day, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, in his message is assuring Barbadians that Government remains committed to doing its part in protecting the vulnerable and marginalized in society.
“We will give voice to those whose voices are not being heard. We further recommit to deepening our relationships with our partners in the Third Sector/Civil Society and together close the inequalities gap and attain the goal of social justice,” Minister Jordan said.
He also reminded citizens that the term ‘social justice’ connotes an environment where there is equity and fairness; no one is marginalized, exploited or discriminated against; there is no poverty; there are equal gender opportunities; and there is no infringement of human rights.
In addressing the theme, Minister Jordan said: “There is inequality in almost every area of human existence. This year’s theme should, therefore, be the rallying call for all of us to determine how we can contribute to reducing and eliminating inequalities and closing the gaps; be it bullying in schools; acts of discrimination; intimate partner violence; human trafficking, to list but a few.”
Government established the Social Justice Committee in 2018 to assist with achieving these objectives. The committee is comprised of representatives of organizations representing women, men, young people, journalists, people of faith, persons with disabilities, co-operatives, credit unions, people working with sex workers, social workers, parent-teacher associations, LGBTI people, the NGO sector, UWI, workers, business and government.
It addresses matters of poverty alleviation, family strengthening, discrimination, access to education, the integration of people living with disabilities, access to employment, safety and security, and the environment.
In order to close the inequalities gap and achieve social justice, the committee, which meets monthly, has made input in the discussions on local governance, youth unemployment reduction strategies, Third Sector legislation, the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation programme, and the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society.
It will continue to discuss and make input on public policy that impacts people. Apart from making input directly in its meetings, the committee will report to Cabinet on its deliberations and suggestions.
Minister Jordan, while noting that a government would never be able to address all the needs of all residents of a country said: “Third sector organizations operating in the civil society sphere have an important, even critical, role to play in ensuring no one is left behind, and all of our people are able to live comfortably in this country, and contribute meaningfully and responsibly to its development.”
Emphasizing that the persistence of social injustices serves to impede the economic growth and development of a country, he added that this could lead to frustration, disillusionment, and the widening of the gap with respect to income distribution, resulting in “a deterioration in living standards of some, as well as serious anti-social behaviour”.
While he contends that social justice will be achieved through a variety of means, including education, awareness-building and legislation, Mr. Jordan said: “We must reclaim our families and our communities. We must respect diversity and difference.”