The fight for social justice is always also a fight for what is possible. Although the world has rapidly changed in the last 50 years, questions on how to organize social justice remain an ongoing socio-political task. In a time where technological innovations and globalized structures provide many opportunities to some, most others are denied social and civic participation. Their fundamental rights are often not ensured, and they are confronted with discrimination, oppression and poverty on a daily basis. Just like religious affiliation, sexual orientation or “race”, “gender” plays a deciding role. Worldwide, women are one of the most oppressed groups.
Social justice – a fundamental value of social democracy – is also at the heart of our international development cooperation. We raise questions of justice in both national and international contexts. How can we give assistance to countries establishing social security systems that protect all people from poverty and marginalization? How can the un- and underpaid Care Work done primarily by women be acknowledged and redistributed, both politically and socially? What impact do our policies have on the social situation in societies of the Global South? Which ideas and concepts from the Global South are interesting to us? Together with our partners, we develop tangible alternative policies in order to face existing injustice and discrimination worldwide.
One of the main emphases of our work is the promotion of Social Protection Floors (SPFs), that is the establishment and expansion of basic social protection systems. These systems guarantee a safe, basic income to people who, for reasons such as disease or old age, cannot earn their own livelihood anymore. SPFs ensure the right of each person to social and material security and enable a life in dignity. In addition, they act as stabilizers during times of crisis and so contribute to a country's economic development. In both the International Labour Organizations's (ILO) Recommendation 202 and the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainability Goals, the international community agreed on creating SPFs for their citizens. So that words can become actions, we work with civil society organizations, unions and political decision-makers to develop implementation strategies that are geared towards respective national contexts.
With publications, practical handbooks and a monitoring index we support the various actors' efforts of establishing Social Protection Floors in their countries. In addition to this, we monitor international debates and processes with the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. Lastly, we advocate for the acknowledgment of social protection as an important element of sustainable development in UN hearings.
If we want to promote gender equality globally, we need to ascertain how the economic order can become gender equitable. Women in particular provide Care Work for children, sick and old people. This work is an essential pillar of both the economic system and a functioning society, but it is rarely paid and if it is, paid badly. The worldwide exclusion of “Care” in the economic sense is a justice problem, leading to a structural embedding and reproduction of gender inequality.
Further, in various ways, this issue is a global justice problem. The growing employment of women in the richer countries of the Global North, amongst other things, leads to a higher demand of Care Work, which is mostly done by women from the Global South. These “Global Care Chains” are fraught with a number of problems, for instance the precarious or even exploitative working conditions for migrant workers and the issue of childcare for the children of these same workers.
Against this background, we advocate for strengthening Care Worker's rights, for implementing the ILO Domestic Worker's Convention and for focusing on socio-political reforms and alternative economic concepts. Further, we aim to strengthen women's rights within UN processes. To this end, we work closely with the Women's Major Group (WMG), one of nine civil society groups officially affiliated with the UN. Here, we try to ensure that the rights of women and girls are adequately taken into account in UN negotiations and documents.
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