Blog post: World Day of Social Justice 2024

February 20, 2024

Written by Alanna Molzahn,  ESPC Volunteer.

Each year, the UN observes World Day of Social Justice, which encourages member nations to promote social justice in their countries. This year, we reflect on social justice advancements in the world, as well as shortcomings in our own communities.  

February 20, 2024, marks the 15th World Day of Social Justice. Since 2009, this day has been observed to focus on social injustice in the world and to push for improvements, as well as solutions (1). In their discussion of 2023’s World Day of Social Justice, the UN notes the exacerbating effects of COVID-19, climate change, and geopolitical tensions on economic and social crises (2). As such, the year’s theme focused on UN recommendations to strengthen solidarity and rebuild trust in government.  At this time, the theme for 2024 has not yet been revealed, allowing us to reflect on the issues that impact our communities the most, as well as explore possible solutions. We may also reflect on the past 15 years to note how far we have come while remaining mindful of where there is still room for improvement. 

A Look at Social Justice in the Past 15 Years 

 The past 15 years have seen numerous advances for social justice, relating to improved health outcomes, increased gender equality, and climate change activism. Some examples include: 

  • In 2011, the last polio case in India was confirmed, and since then, the country has been polio-free (3).  
  • In 2015, Cuba became the first country to elimination mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis (4). 
  • In 2018, Greta Thunberg encouraged school strikes every Friday, to address climate change and sparking a global movement (5).  

 We should not, however, lose sight of the poverty, racism, and systemic inequalities that are endemic in our societies. In 2021, nearly 1 in 5 Canadian children were living in poverty (6). From January to June 2023, an average of 22 people died per day as a result of apparent opioid toxicity (7). Inflation continues to climb, and Canadians are facing increased food insecurity (8).  

 Since the pandemic, Edmonton’s unhoused population has doubled (9). Despite an inadequate number of safe and accessible shelter spaces, the City of Edmonton authorized the destruction of encampments, undermining the health and safety of an already vulnerable demographic. Furthermore, the unhoused population in Edmonton is predominantly Indigenous, encouraging us to think critically about the legacies of colonialism and how the encampment sweeps and related policies function as a form of continued colonial violence.  

 World Day of Social Justice and Beyond 

 As we approach this year’s World Day of Social Justice, we should consider the most pressing issues in our communities and brainstorm for ways to hold our elected representatives accountable. Simultaneously, we need to encourage them to take positive steps toward harm reduction, providing affordable housing, and eradicating the conditions and systems that result in poverty, houselessness, and addiction. However, we cannot solely rely on governments and international organizations. Important work has been done by ordinary citizens, reinforcing the importance of building community and fighting for our friends, families, and neighbours.  

 Today, I encourage all readers to turn inward and reflect on ways we can advance social justice in our own communities. This may take the form of mutual aid, writing a letter to city council, or even challenging ingrained beliefs of who deserves what. Social justice requires more than just government action, and by having compassion and empathy for those around us, we can continue to bolster the rights of vulnerable and marginalized peoples.   



1. World Day of Social Justice 2024. World Day of Social Justice 2024 | South African Government. (n.d.). 

2. United Nations. (n.d.). UN Observances. United Nations. 

3. World Health Organization. (n.d.-a). Polio-free India: It seemed impossible until it was done. World Health Organization. until-it-was-done.html   

4. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Who validates elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba. World Health Organization.  

5. How Greta started a Global Movement. Fridays For Future. (2021, June 24).  

6. Racine, N.  Analysis: Child poverty rises in Canada to 1 million | National Post. National Post. (2024, February 5). the-rise-in-canada 

 7. Opioid- and stimulant-related harms. Government of Canada. (2023, December 15). 

8. Government of Canada, S. C.  Study: Food insecurity among Canadian families, 2022. (2023, November 14). 

9. Riebe, N., & Snowdon, W.  Edmonton declares homelessness emergency, while judge scraps lawsuit against City’s dismantling of Encampments | CBC news. CBC News. (2024, January 17). 




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