By Khadija mbesah
Social justice refers to equal opportunities, distribution of wealth, healthcare facilities and privileges within a society. Social justice also includes human rights and looking after people who have historically faced discrimination based on race, religion, sex and economic background. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in the last one year, the alarming inequalities have been exposed like never before and hence World Day of Social Justice 2021 assumes great importance. World Day of Social Justice is a United Nations designated day observed in countries across the world.
Theme of World Day of Social Justice 2021: “A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy”
The digital economy is transforming the world of work. Over the past decade, expansion in broadband connectivity, cloud computing, and data have led to the proliferation of digital platforms, which have penetrated several sectors of the economy and societies. Since early 2020, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to remote working arrangements and allowed for the continuation of many business activities, further reinforcing the growth and impact of the digital economy. The crisis has also laid bare and exacerbated the growing digital divide within, between and across developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of the availability, affordability and use of information ICTs and access to the internet, deepening existing inequalities.
While digital labor platforms provide workers with income-generating opportunities and benefits from flexible work arrangements, including for women, persons with disabilities, young people, and migrant workers, they also present some challenges. For workers, these relate to the regularity of work and income, their rights to fair working conditions, social protection and adequate standard of living, skills utilization, and the right to form or join trade unions. Algorithmic monitoring practices, in some cases augmenting to workplace surveillance, are also a growing concern. Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are exposing the risks and inequalities of workers engaged in location-based platforms. For traditional businesses, the challenges include unfair competition from platforms, some of which are not subject to conventional taxation and other obligations because of their novel nature, including with respect to their workforce. Another challenge for traditional businesses is the amount of funding required to continuously adapt to digital transformations, especially for small and medium enterprises, and inadequate availability of reliable digital infrastructure, in the global South.
Over the last few years, countries have increasingly focused on digital economy and expansion in broadband connectivity. This has led to the mushrooming of digital platforms in all sectors. Though this provides many opportunities and has helped in ‘work from home’ facilities amid the pandemic, it has also “laid bare and exacerbated the growing digital divide within” in developed and developing countries, according to the United Nations.
Also children were able to learn and attend to their classes online amidst the pandemic, Digital economy has grown to not only benefit a certain age group but everyone in General. but despite having equal access to the digital economy, other people/children aren’t able to enjoy those privileges’ because they don’t have access to certain gadgets.
Social justice in a digital economy has become a necessity as traditional workforces have started suffering. Local wage earners and small businesses are facing challenges like unfair competition. Also everyone is not able to keep up and adapt to the digital transformations. Many do not even have access to the digital infrastructure and funding necessary.
World Day of Social Justice 2021: 5 key principles of social Justice
- Access to resources
- Human Rights
This year’s commemoration supports efforts by the international community to search for solutions to achieve sustainable development, poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, universal social protection, gender equality and access to social well-being and justice for all. Consequently, it aims at fostering dialogue with member States and relevant UN institutions and other stakeholders on actions needed to overcome the digital divide, provide decent work opportunities, and protect labor and human rights in the modern era of digital technologies.
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