On February 20, we observe and celebrate World Day of Social Justice but what is ‘social justice’? According to Adams, Bell, and Griffin (2007), leading scholars in the field of social justice, “Social justice is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. We envision a society in which individuals are both self-determining and interdependent.” The United Nations shares that “Social justice is based on equal rights for all peoples and the possibility for everyone, without discrimination, to benefit from economic and social progress around the world.” and “Social justice flourishes when gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability barriers are struck down.”
While there are more than a few current social justice issues needing to be addressed at this time including voting rights, access to healthcare, racial injustice, income gaps, education attainment gaps, hunger and food insecurity and others, employment opportunities is one way that can help in many of these areas. The 2022 theme for World Day of Social Justice is ‘Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment’. According to the International Labour Organization, over 60% of the employed population in the world are employed through informal employment. The informal economy includes ‘economic activities that are outside tax and regulatory policies’.
This type of employment often times includes those most vulnerable in society including those living in poverty and does not offer the security available through formal employment. Informal employment, while most prevalent in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, occurs across the world including the United States. This work includes self-employment, ‘working under the table’, domestic work and many other areas and does not guarantee rights that are often associated with formal employment such as health insurance, fair pay, paid time-off, etc. Ensuring that everyone has access to formal employment is one way that we can continue the work towards social justice and closing the equity gaps in areas such as safe housing, hunger, and access to healthcare.
- Social Justice Training Institute resources
- Eventbrite: In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice
- 8 Ways to Advance Social Justice After the U.S. Election
- Recommended Non-Fiction Titles on Social Justice
- Eventbrite: Racism: Dismantling the System
- Attach the World Day of Social Justice design elements to your email signature and/or use it in your social media
For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI & Antiracism Resourcesfrom the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkitfrom the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.