Towards the establishment of an equal society

2015-03-20 15:22

March 21 was declared a public holiday to honour and remember those whose lives were sacrificed in the fight for social equality and a non-racial South Africa. This national public holiday is both a glaring recap of the tragic Sharpeville massacre and a celebration of South Africa’s progressive constitution, which gives equal rights to all, irrespective of colour, creed, nationality or religious belief. Although during the past twenty years we have achieved a lot in terms of human rights, more needs to be done to improve the growing imbalances and inequalities in our country- "Apartheid has been defeated but not the battle against poverty, inequality and unemployment." To quote from the Joint statement issued at the Leadership Meeting held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: “Striving to reduce inequalities is not only right in principle; it is also right in practice. Equitable societies promote social capital, social cohesion and stability, trust and tolerance and thereby innovation, economic growth and sustainable development.” While there is some effort being done to address the poverty levels and growing inequalities in our country, there is still much more to be done. The masses are still living under extreme poverty and hardship as they did under the repressive rule of the Nationalist Party. Each one of us can make a difference to end poverty, unemployment, racism, classism and gender based oppression. We must stand up to our responsibility by instilling "active citizenry" and find ways and means to develop learning programs in order to promote rule of law, accountability, transparency, good governance, human rights and national prosperity. Active citizenry can be a powerful way to help ordinary people take effective measures on the challenges that are most significant to them. It can also go a long way in building a better country for all who live in South Africa and towards creating a human rights culture. The onus is on us as ordinary people to bring about progressive change and to ensure that the fundamental freedoms for everyone enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be known, understood and enjoyed by all everywhere.

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