World Social Justice Day

By Opeyemi Oriniowo

Today, February 20th, is World Social Justice Day. The term Social Justice has received enormous attention globally due to its critical impact on the socio-economic status of any given society. To some, it is considered a fundamental issue in the human race, while others regard it as a prerequisite to peace and development in a modern society. To set things in perspective, take a minute to ‘Google’ the term ‘Social Justice’…… You will be immediately faced with an avalanche of literature seeking to conceptualize the term, and they are all not summarily focusing on the same issues.

The phenomenon has been defined in diverse perspectives to reflect the various viewpoints the authors assessed it from. To set a broader perspective, imagine a case where liberals and conservatives, religious fundamentalists and radical secularists, and all manner of groups within society are to agree on a socially just cause; it will be interesting to see a definition that encapsulate all these perspectives.


However, most perspectives consider the concept of Social Justice as one which looks at fairness beyond individual justice. We can perhaps say fairness is not the same as justice. In fact, justice may be served but the fairness of such verdicts are usually measured by affected individuals whose voices can be considered as subjective.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Social Justice is the fair and just relationship between the individual and society’ and is said to be measureable in terms of distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and social privileges. The only problem with stopping at this point in the quest to understand the meaning of social justice is its’ lack of emphasis on the optimum balance between individuals’ joint responsibilities as a society and their responsibilities as individuals to contribute to a just society.

However, a lot of opinions exist on where the optimum balance lies. These issues are a result of unequal wealth and resource distribution, discrimination in terms of race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, as well as the laws that support them.
Social justice issues occur globally, nationally, locally and within groups. The Pachamama Alliance (NGO) has an apt analysis of what social justice encompasses. They delineate social justice into two categories.

The first category is the ‘Inter-Social Treatment’ and the other is the ‘Unequal Government Regulation’. The first category involves treatment of a group(s) of people within the local and regional scale. The basis for this unequal treatment is usually due to a personal belief about that group(s): they include Racism (belief that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by in-born biological characteristic), sexism (majorly gender discrimination against women and other women’s right issues), Ageism (Discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age) and Heterosexism (A system of attitudes and bias strictly in favor of opposite-sex sexuality).
The second category ‘Unequal Government Regulation’ involves laws and regulations that purposefully or otherwise, discriminate a group(s) from the same opportunities and resources based on differences that are unique to that group(s): they include Poverty (lacking access to food, clean water and shelter), Death Penalty (Although very debatable), Environmental Rights, Access to Health Care, Heterosexism, Labor Laws, Civil Rights, Access to Education, amongst others.
One will not be far from the truth, if we say that Social Justice means everything wrong with our world. However, the question is, how appropriate is it for everything wrong with the world to be built into one catch-phrase. For starters, we are at a risk of over simplification of serious issues that needs to be called for what they are and addressed squarely. In-spite of all the conceptual challenges that arise with bundling diverse issues into a two-word catch-phrase, using the term Social Justice will hopefully keep all of us alert to the fact that regardless of our individual politics, we should all strive to seek a world which we will be proud to hand over to generations to come. Let us all do whatever we can, from wherever we are, to make our world a truly just one. Happy Social Justice Day.



Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

Source: Copyright: Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source

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