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What is Social Justice?

It is a complex issue.

Social justice is based on the premise that all people are entitled to the same basic rights and
freedoms as everybody else.

Social justice is connected with issues of equality and equity.

It refers to an ideal of society, where "justice" refers to economic status rather than to the
administration of laws.

It is based on the idea of a society which gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a just
share of the benefits of society

It is giving people their due, what they deserve.

It is equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs

Equality and Equity

Equality: efforts to treat everyone in a similar way.

Equity: attempts to ascertain that treatment is just and fair.

Equity refers to how fair the system is to persons who pass through it.

The development of social justice in the Caribbean

Slavery and forced labour were not regarded as wrong by the colonialists.

Slaves were regarded as both people and property.

The fundamental principles of the colonial state were exploitation, inequality and injustice.

The principle of equality did not apply to the colonial state.

After emancipation in 1834, Caribbean people were no longer regarded as property.

In 1944 and 1946 respectively, universal adult suffrage was introduced in Jamaica and Trinidad.
Other countries followed suit later.

In 1962, Jamaica and Trinidad became independent. A Bill of Rights was included in the
constitutions of both countries.

The Bill of Rights is a chapter in the constitution which outlines and protects the fundamental
rights and freedoms of individuals in society.
All independent countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean have a Bill of Rights which is
enshrined/entrenched and protected in their constitutions.

The Bill of Rights is designed to perpetuate and uphold equality and social justice

Citizens have the power to redress any infringement of his/her constitutional rights in the

Excerpt from Antigua and Barbuda Bill of Rights

Except as is otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution, no law may abrogate, abridge or infringe
or authorise the abrogation , abridgement or infringement of any of the fundamental rights and
freedoms of the individual hereinbefore recognized and declared.

Social justice issues

1. Gender equality- Women in politics, education and employment

2. Class discrimination (employment, education, justice)

3. Racial discrimination. (Racial groups: White, Afro Caribbean, Indian, Chinese)

4. Minorities - Rastafarians, Caribs, Maroons

5. The elderly

6. The disabled

7. Street people/Vagrants

8. AIDS victims

9. Rights of the child

10. Cruel and unusual punishment (the death penalty)

11.Delay of execution

Social justice and development

The human development model of development emphasizes that people are the means and
end of development.

Development cannot be considered to be true development unless someone experienced good

from it and not at the expense of others.

Social justice is a non material indicator of human development

Human development is predicated on equity and inclusiveness

Equality in educational opportunity

Equality of educational opportunity has been a social demand in the Caribbean. This means that
all groups in society would be able to access schools without any major obstacles directed at

Is there inequality in accessing secondary education?

Do all groups have access to education (primary, secondary, tertiary)?

Obstacles to equality in secondary education

Classroom space

Entry requirements primary and post primary exam

Inability to cater for a wide variety of needs/skills/competencies

Inability to cater for different clientele.

The inability to provide adequate education can impact a countrys development. It diminishes
the quality of life for the affected persons.

Social Justice and productivity

Individual rights may be infringed in the following situations:

Supercession in the Civil Service (workers with less experience are promoted ahead of those
with more experience)

Less pay for women doing the same job as men

Wage level below the minimum wage

Effects on productivity

The worker who is promoted may not be able to perform the task. The aggrieved worker may
refuse to cooperate or may resort to strike action, a sickout, go slow.

Women may become demotivated

Workers may resort to stealing, sabotage or go slows

3. Quality of life and social justice

Failure to provide facilities (e.g. ramps, special schools, buses) and job opportunities for the
physically challenged reduces quality of life for the physically challenged.
Failure to provide adequate help, medicare and relief for the elderly results in increased
morbidity and mortality.

Workers in low paying jobs are unable to improve their housing or standard of living


1. Give three reasons why the Bill of Rights in your countrys constitution is important to social

2. Identify groups in your society whose rights are violated or not defended. Suggest reasons why.
Suggest ways of correcting this problem.

3. How does social justice affect the development of a country?

4. Do you believe that the Caribbean Court of Justice would improve social justice in the region?