The World Day of Social Justice was initiated by the United Nations and is observed on 20 February every year. While this is not a public holiday, it exists to remind us to think and act on social ills and issues in our society, as individuals, companies and communities.

What is it about?

Social justice issues include employment, education, gender equality, fair trade, migrant rights and poverty, among other things. While we should devote more of our time, energy and resources towards these causes on a more consistent basis, many of us do not. As such, this day is about awareness – to remind ourselves and one another to play our part in whichever way we can.

What can we do as South Africans?

There are many issues facing South Africans right now, including water shortages, continued race and class inequality, a crisis in education, and gender violence, just to name a few. You can pick a cause that really speaks to you and make a positive and meaningful difference to someone’s life today, this week or on a more regular basis.

1. Donate your talent, skills or money to NGOs/NPOs:

The Social Justice Coalition looks particularly at informal settlements in South Africa and they accept donations. With poverty and housing being one of our most pressing social justice issues, this is an important cause. There’s an NGO that you can contribute to, whether you’re an artist or a lawyer, as different organisations require different skill sets. Have a look at five South African human rights NGOs you should know about, published by Brand South Africa, to find the one for you.

2. Assist with the education crisis:

Donate your old textbooks to local schools, colleges, universities or students. Volunteer your services at schools in disenfranchised areas. Fund or tutor a school learner or university student if you have the means or skills, or better yet, donate to bursary programmes. If you are interested in furthering your education and cannot afford university, consider distance learning courses as an alternative.

3. Work towards gender equality:

Buy a hamper of sanitary pads, wet-wipes, soap and related products to donate to a community drive in your area. Better yet, start your own pad drive in your community and get more people involved. Make your voice heard until sanitary pads become free nationally.

4. Save water:

Given the current water shortage in South Africa, you can save water by checking for leaks around your home and fixing them, flushing your toilet only when necessary and turning off the taps while brushing your teeth. The shortage and depletion of natural resources affects all of us, so start making the necessary sacrifices in your lifestyle. Other ways of doing this include taking shorter showers, using dish-water to water your plants and avoiding the hosepipe.

We urge you to take a moment to decide which social justice issue is most important to you, and to do your part to uplift and develop your community today. Try to make it a habit, and not a once-a-year thing.