Message by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, on World Day of Social Justice – February 20, 2020. Theme – “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”.
Barbados joins with other countries around the globe to observe World Day of Social Justice which is recognized annually on February 20. For many of us, 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.
This year’s World Day of Social Justice is being observed under the theme “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”. The theme suggests what we know to be the reality – all is not well in the world. 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 us in this work. The Committee is comprised of representatives of organisations representing women, men, young people, journalists, people of faith, people living 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.
Its work is to address 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 the Cabinet on its deliberations and suggestions.
A Government will never be able to address all the needs of all the residents of a country. Third sector organisations 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.
The persistence of social injustices serves to impede the economic growth and development of a country. This can lead to frustration, disillusionment, and the widening of the gap with respect to income distribution. The result will be a deterioration in living standards of some, as well as serious anti-social behaviour.
Social justice will be achieved through a variety of means including education, awareness-building and legislation. We must reclaim our families and our communities. We must respect diversity and difference.
On this World Day of Social Justice, Government recommits to continuing to do 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.
What is Social Justice?
Social Justice focuses on the concepts of human rights and equity as these pertain to the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.
Some Social Injustices:
• Forced labour
• Denial of human rights
• Religious intimidation
• Social exclusion
• Discrimination against the LGBTIQ
• Children denied access to an education
• Child labour
• Discrimination against women
• Discrimination against persons living with disabilities
Composition of the Social Justice Committee
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Chairman;
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Deputy Chairman;
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations;
Permanent Secretary, the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs;
Barbados Private Sector Association;
Barbados Evangelical Association, (BEA);
Ichirouganaim Council for the Advancement of Rastafari, (ICAR);
Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados;
Barbados Workers’ Union;
National Organization of Women;
Men’s Educational Support Association;
Barbados Youth Development Council;
Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers;
Barbados National Organization of the Disabled;
Barbados Council for the Disabled;
Barbados Cooperative Credit Union League Limited, (BCCULL);
Barbados Cooperatives Business Association Limited;
Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers;
National Council of Parent Teachers Association;
Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations BANGO;
Barbados Family Planning Association;
Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals Against Discrimination, (BGLAD);
Cave Hill Campus, Institute of Gender and Development Studies, University of the West Indies; and
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and the Sustainable Development Goals.