What is Social Justice?
Members of Planet Us understand social justice. It is:
- Equal rights
- Equal opportunity
- Equal treatment
Several organizations and institutions provide their own definitions for social justice. Here are a few:
- “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.”
- “Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.”
National Association of Social Workers
- “Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development.”
Center for Economic and Social Justice
The principles of social justice
Social justice depends on four essential goals: human rights, access, participation, and equity. Social justice can’t be achieved without these four principles.
The connection between social justice and human rights has strengthened over the years. It has become clear to activists and governments that one can’t exist without the other. When a society is just, it protects and respects everyone’s human rights. This connection is essential since human rights are recognized globally. Various treaties help keep governments accountable.
Being able to access essentials like shelter, food, and education is crucial for a just society. If access is restricted based on factors like gender, race, or class, it leads to suffering for individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Social justice activists work to increase and restore access, giving everyone equal opportunities for a good life.
Social justice isn’t possible if only some voices are heard. Unfortunately, that’s often what happens and the voices of the marginalized and vulnerable are silenced. Even when society tries to address problems, solutions won’t work if those most affected can’t participate in the process. Participation must be encouraged and rewarded so that everyone – especially those who haven’t had a chance before – can speak.
Many people believe that “equality” is one of the principles of social justice, but it’s actually “equity.” What’s the difference? Equity takes into account the effects of discrimination and aims for an equal outcome. There’s a graphic that demonstrates this well: three people are trying to see over a fence. One of them is already tall and able to see – they represent the most privileged in society. The other can just barely see and the last person – the most vulnerable in society – can’t see at all. “Equality” gives everyone one box to stand on, even though the tallest person doesn’t need it and it still doesn’t allow the shortest person to see. “Equity” doesn’t give the privileged person any boxes. Instead, the middle person gets one box and the last gets two. Now, everyone is at an equal level.
Planet Us supports social justice, because we support all people, animals, the environment, and the planet. We invite you to join us in our efforts.