On the occasion of the World Day of Social Justice, which has been celebrated on 20 February, representatives of the Working Group “Social Issues and Civic Participation“ prepared an essay on a role of community foundations in promotion of ideas of social justice:
‘Can the community foundations, which serve as a tool to accumulate and divide necessary resources in every particular region, influence such a global notion as social injustice? Indeed, the highest and most competent organisations (the UN, International Labour Organisation – ILO), as well as governmental, intergovernmental, and international institutions are involved in solving this problem.
The UN Special Resolution of 18 December 2007 acknowledges a necessity for the international community to further augment efforts to eradicate poverty and to provide full-time employment, decent working places, gender equality, social welfare, and justice for everybody. At the same time, the ILO Declaration on social justice for a fair globalisation notes that labour is not a good, and poverty, regardless of its location, presents danger to the world’s prosperity. The Declaration focuses on the guarantees for everybody’s just achievements through provision of employment, social protection, social dialogue, and basic principles and rights in the working place. One of the main tasks is to secure employment by creating a stable institutional and economic environment, where everyone will be able to develop and improve his or her potential and skills, which are necessary for a productive work, personal goals’ achievement, and common welfare.
An extract from the Declaration mentioned above are very optimistic. It is important to note, however, that – apart from the employers who, in this case, are to guarantee social justice and responsible for implementation of the Declaration’s commitments – there is another party – those people, for whose sake such work and declarations are made. Do those people know about their rights, their abilities, about the fact that their interests are presented at the highest level?
The message of the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon on the 2014 World Day of Social Justice stated: ‘The world gap between the poorest and the richest is bigger than in previous years and it keeps growing… We must do more to empower individuals through decent work, support people through social protection, and ensure the voices of the poor and marginalised are heard.’
Certainly, such an organisation as the UN does not and cannot bear responsibility for informing all the stakeholders and people in need about every decision, which has been met. Nevertheless, there is no suggested appropriate informing mechanism either.
Probably, community foundations can play a role of such a mechanism. They can transfer global decisions and initiatives to the local level in settlements, streets, blocks, etc. Facing such a large-scale problem as world social injustice, which includes global poverty, famine, and in some cases slavery, a local community should learn to develop “social immunity” and find means to cope with such notions. The first step is and should be a timely and correct information of the target audience – people themselves – about existing international supporting programmes, policies, strategic vectors, and ideas.
By the most optimistic esteems, such work might take several years. Each party, however, should understand that eventually we will need to set the mechanisms for co-operation between global and local institutions – the UN, world governments, and local communities. Today, it is not important, which party will initiate rapprochement, as long as the goals are common for everybody – to achieve social justice for every citizen in the world.’
Snezhana Frantsuzova, Penza Community Foundation “Civil Union” (Penza, Russia)