Social justice requires social development and children’s participation

    February 20, 2023

    ARCSEA statement in observance of World Day of Social Justice

    World Day of Social Justice

    The Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA) joins the international community in commemorating World Day of Social Justice, a day of observance to highlight pervasive global problems such as gender inequality, unemployment, and poverty, and at the same time promote political, economic, and human rights from a social perspective.

    This year’s theme,  Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice is a reminder that achieving social justice and social development remain hampered by obstacles such as conflict, weakened institutions, and shrinking civic space that continue to persist, and intensify.

    According to the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report for 2022 by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, “the expected year for the achievement of the SDGs is now 2065, and the gap grows wider with each passing year. The Asia-Pacific region is now facing the economic impact of the crisis and the risk that progress will slow down even more in the coming years as environmental and social targets are compromised.”

    Such conditions have a direct and immediate impact on children and young people especially those from marginalized sectors and communities. The SDG Progress Report highlights the fact that 32 million children in the Asia-Pacific region are affected by wasting, a form of malnutrition and over 10% are out of school, with girls from rural areas and poor households being more disadvantaged.

    Social, cultural, and structural practices, meanwhile, have created barriers that exclude the youth and children from participating in decision-making processes, even on issues that affect them. This discrimination from participation is not only based on their age, but intertwined with other factors including social class, ethnicity, religion, and gender.

    The second part of the theme for this year’s commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, however, reminds us that where there are barriers, there are also opportunities.

    As the world steadily marches onward from the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic along with other significant changes linked to the changing climate and technology, we have an opportunity for a  true new normal – one where social justice and social development is the norm.