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"Migrant workers, like all workers, are entitled to fair treatment and fair treatment for migrant workers is also key to preserving the social fabric of our societies and to sustainable development." ~ Message from ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryders ~

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of the global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalizationis just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.

Observed on the 20th of February yearly, the World Day of Social Justice marks the difference between patronizing charity and a firm rights-based approach to human development and their well-being. Effective social justice transforms altruistic gestures into justifiable rights, particularly for the benefit of the most vulnerable people.

2018 theme is “Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice”. Most migration today is linked directly or indirectly to the search for decent work opportunities. Even if employment is not the primary driver, it usually features in the migration process at some point. There are an estimated 258 million international migrants. The ILO estimates that there are roughly 150 million migrant workers. Among migrant workers, 56 percent are men and 44 percent are women. Migrant workers account for 4.4 percent of all workers and have higher labor force participation rates than non-migrants globally (73 percent and 64 percent respectively).

The quest for social justice has been an historical journey for migrant workers who are often exposed to the risk of exploitation in countries of origin, transit and destination. The lack of social justice, in particular for low-wage migrant workers, includes the risk of being trapped into jobs with poor wages and working conditions, often in the informal economy; exposure to violations of labour and other human rights; dangerous workplace and health hazards; child labour; forced labour; debt bondage; trafficking in persons; and other decent work deficits.

Exploitative recruitment practices, at the very start of the migration process, add to the challenge through exorbitant recruitment fees and other costs charged to migrant workers. The mismatch of skills to the jobs available in destination countries; separation of families; and absence of social protection also contribute to the social and economic costs of migration.

We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), believe that the World Day of Social Justice is a call for all countries to take concrete actions that give meaning to the universal values of human dignity and opportunity for all. We uphold the principles of social justice by promoting gender equality and giving young people a voice to speak up as well as removing barriers that young people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

To achieve the goal of a society for all governments in every country should commit itself for the creation of a framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels. Governments should also pledge to promote the equitable income distribution and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all.

Let us call upon the international community to make effort to eradicate poverty, promote employment with decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being for all.

Happy World Day of Social Justice!