20 February 2020, Geneva – On the World Day of Social Justice observed on 20 February, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, Dr Umesh Palwankar, stressed the importance of social justice to build peaceful societies.

In vast areas of the world, people belonging to vulnerable groups continue to face challenges in their quest for equal rights, fair treatment and non-discrimination. Women, migrants, people with disabilities and indigenous people experience particular difficulties in terms of labour force participation, decent work opportunities, access to housing and adequate medical care.

The Executive Director equally emphasized the importance of addressing in particular the needs of youth as the main group in society affected by growing unemployment and the rising risks of inequality.

Poorly paid and precarious employment, together with the perception of instability and inequality breed bitterness, frustration, and resentment. In turn, inequalities contribute to the rise of antagonism and social polarization within societies. “In a period marked by a steep rise in xenophobia, racism and intolerance, social justice must constitute an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations”, declared the Executive Director of the Centre.

Dr Palwankar stressed the link between achieving social justice and advancing the Social Development Goals (SDGs). These include: “No Poverty (SDG1); Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8) and Reduced Inequality (SGD10)”.

In order to achieve progress, access to quality education is critical. Barriers to inclusion need to be removed through a set of comprehensive rights-based laws. There is also a need to create good jobs, the single most important factor in reducing poverty and social inequality. “It needs to be recognised that fundamentally, employment is more than just a means to satisfy material needs, but it also provides individuals with dignity and purpose, and it is ultimately a key to long-term social integration into society” concluded the Executive Director or the Geneva Centre Dr Umesh Palwankar.