World Day of Social Justice – 20 February 2020

World Day of Social Justice is an international day recognising the need to promote social justice, which includes efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.

Any article on Social Justice could include so much, but would that help? Are we wiser to concentrate on a limited number of issues in order to gain greater traction? I am torn between wanting to cover everything and the need to focus. It is tempting to use only SDG 5 (Gender Equality) but we cannot achieve it without SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). Equality will not be reached unless we work on SDGs 1–4, 7-11 and 6&12-15 as well – all of the 5Ps! Each club will have its own preferences and together we can make a significant difference or, as my mother would say, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’!

The UN Secretary General said, we will not achieve equality without applying the principle of equity (giving resources to those who need them most) but even that will not achieve justice, on its own. During this year where COP26 (Conference of the Parties on climate change) will be held in Glasgow (9-20 November) under the chairmanship of the UK Government, what can we do to influence the outcome and progress towards gender equality?

Do you like chocolate? I do but do I buy responsibly? Some of you will remember the presentation from Green & Black a few conferences ago. Where do they source their chocolate[1]? Fairtrade.org.uk lists a number of products we enjoy – https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Farmers-and-Workers. Are we buying responsibly? Most chocolate is grown by small farmers who do not benefit from their hard work. The World Economic Forum highlights some ways in which this can change – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/cocoa-chocolate-the-other-bar-value-chain-undp-ecuador/ and https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/cocoa-industry-ivory-coast-agriculture-deforestation/. These ideas would also help to combat deforestation as well as farmers’ poverty and, thus, climate change.

What does all this have to do with Social Justice? In order to achieve it we need to ensure:

  • fair distribution of wealth – e.g income for the farmers, address child poverty and access to nutritious food at home and abroad;
  • easily accessible health care and social provision – e.g. childcare, care of the elderly, good pensions;
  • climate friendly electricity production (e.g. solar and wind power);
  • vehicles which do not emit harmful gases and particulates – e.g. enough charging points across countries for cars & encourage public infrastructure provision of eco-friendly buses, trains, ships and aircraft – and use them;
  • homes that are well insulated in order to limit, or even eliminate, heat loss plus equipment that uses less electricity and end the use of fossil fuels (e.g. coal, wood, gas). Not achievable? Oh yes it is! I recently took a minor role in excavating an old toilet block in Llandaff Cardiff and we found a medieval house[2] – relevant? Yes, because the visitor centre designed to replace it has an A energy rating – new for old!

Now that governments are promising to address the climate emergency we can use the opportunity to begin to address the social injustices suffered by women and girls, and their families, everywhere.

[1] https://www.greenandblacks.co.uk/ethically-sourced-cocoa
[2] https://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/medieval-house-investigated-in-llandaff.htm

Kay Richmond
Programme Director