No day goes by at SOAS without a conversation about social justice. It’s a concept prized at the institution; one that most of our courses hold near and dear, as we all aim for – perhaps a vague and truly unattainable – goal of absolute justice.
In the 19th Century, however, the concept of social justice arose in order to solve very legitimate, tangible problems. In order to remedy the problem of human exploitation, diminish the differences between the wealthy and the poor, and create more equal societies, revolutions ran across Europe in support of a society that was just. Eventually, the United Nations named February 20th as World Day of Social Justice to promote this concept further, choosing yearly goals that countries and citizens around the world can look forward towards accomplishing.
This year’s World Social Justice Day’s theme focused on diminishing economic disparity by “closing the inequalities gap to achieve social justice” – quite a hefty ambition.
But there are things all of us can do to be more mindful of how we contribute towards having a more egalitarian society.
So here are five things you can do yourself to follow the spirit of this year’s World’s Day of Social Justice:
Read about a social justice issue you’re unaware of, engage in theories and debates conducted by social scientists, or maybe fiction emerging from cultures you’re unfamiliar with.
Research the brands that you purchase products from—do they harm animals, are they safe for the environment, are they ethically produced, and do they exploit human labour? There are countless alternatives as well, and affordable brands that are conscious producers, so making that transition isn’t quite as difficult as it may seem.
Engage in Dialogue
While we all love a heated Twitter argument where both sides are just interested in affirming their own points, sometimes, engaging in constructive dialogue without feeling offended or attacked may be a better strategy. If a family member or an old friend makes a bigoted comment, engage with them on why they would say something like that, hear them out, and explain to them why that’s wrong or inappropriate, instead of getting heated up and storming off.
Use your voice
If you have a particular skill, even if it is something like making memes, use that skill to raise awareness about a social justice issue you care about deeply. Digital media has provided us countless resources with which we could engage our community, so it’s time to make use of those resources, be it an Instagram account, or a podcast channel.
Volunteer your time
Being a student at SOAS means you have access to a great Careers Service department, one that will provide you with all the resources you need to volunteer your time for a cause you care about. London also has several community and volunteer initiatives wherein you can participate in the movement of your choice and make incremental changes and differences to your life as well as that of those around you.
Ifath Arwah is an MA Media in Development student at SOAS, with a background in journalism and research. Her interests revolve around gender, migration, and development.