Actions for a just society

Just societies realize human rights, leaving no one behind. That’s the central promise of the Sustainable Development Goals. Everyone should have enough food, and quality health care and education. All kinds of discrimination must end. Daily life is where a just society begins. In all you do, be fair. Be kind. Be generous.

Choose your issue. Make an impact.

Stand up for gender equality

Hire a woman for the same wages as a man. Tell everyone you know that justice is impossible without gender justice. Be proud to be a feminist. Stand up for LGBTQI rights. Challenge stereotypes in the media. Refuse to use gender biased language. Everyday life is full of options to advance gender equality – all of which are needed, and more. At current rates of progress, it will take not just years but centuries to close all gender gaps. Keep in mind: No country has achieved gender equality. Be informed about your country’s track record and join advocates calling for faster change.

Teach children about equality

Children pick up ideas about the world literally from the day they are born. Be a good role model for equality and fairness in how you speak and behave– children will mimic what you do. Listen to children and encourage them to think about how others might look or live differently. Monitor social and other media and even books and toys to avoid those perpetrating gender, racial or other stereotypes. Be mindful that gender stereotypes can be limiting for boys as well as girls.

Sponsor a scholarship

If you have the means, even a small amount, fund a scholarship to help a struggling child complete their education. You can also work with your employer to raise funds – or even adopt a crowdfunding approach. You might choose to fund general education. Or pick a topic close to your heart, like music or science. Top off your financial generosity by giving some time as well. Meeting with scholarship recipients can help mentor them and let you see firsthand the impacts of your generosity.

Fundraise for schools

Organize a fundraiser for schools, in your own community or elsewhere, that are struggling to keep with student needs, including for online learning. If your own children have extra school supplies, uniforms or digital devices, find a way to donate them. Explore an educational exchange that might link your local school to one in another country so children can learn from and support each other. Most children in the world today go to primary school, but 1 in 4 schools lack basics like electricity and drinking water that are essential for quality learning. Half of all global learners do not have a household computer.

Support a food bank

Hunger is on the rise – even as a third of food produced for human consumption ends up being tossed out. Make a commitment to zero food waste in your own kitchen, including by regularly donating excess canned and pantry items to a local food bank. Volunteer to cook meals or distribute food. And join advocacy to invest in better food systems in poorer countries, where 40 per cent of food losses occur after harvest for reasons like poor storage.

Model self-care

It’s simple. Take care of yourself. Stop work early. Go for a walk. Sleep until you wake. Plant a garden or do anything that gives you joy. You’ll be happier and healthier. Our hurried, frenzied world needs to slow down – and each of us can be a starting point. Make self-care a regular practice, and even if you are feeling under stress, you’ll be able to better cope. Different pillars of self-care include mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational and social. Pick the ones that work best for you.

Advocate for quality health care

Add your voice to the global call for universal health coverage and quality care that people can afford. Many civil society groups have taken up these issues – donate to them or volunteer time or skills. Step up for better care in general or find an issue most important to you, like cancer or childhood vaccination. The pandemic showed us: health care, while getting better, still has far to go. Most health systems were unprepared, even as demands for care are growing. Now is the time for public and private health systems to gear up. The world needs 10 million more health workers to keep up in the next decade, for example.

Understand and help reduce mental health stigmas

Many people will experience some kind of mental health concern at some point in their lives. Yet stigma means many of us will suffer in silence. The costs are tragic; every 40 seconds, someone dies of suicide somewhere in the world. If you feel comfortable, be upfront with friends and family members about your own mental health – just like you might with any other health issue. Speak up if you hear discouraging or discriminatory comments, and seek treatment if you need it. Educate yourself to be aware of mental health risks in yourself and those you love – and know what resources you can access for assistance.

Champion accessibility and inclusion

Promoting an inclusive environment is an essential part of ensuring the rights of every person. Globally, 1.3 billion people, about 16 per cent of the population, have some form of disability—not all of which are obvious or easy to see. Yet, persons with disabilities are often subject to discrimination and exclusion. You can make a difference. Advocate for inclusive, accessible spaces – whether physical or online. And, when you witness any form of discrimination anywhere, speak up.

Know your rights

Most countries have committed to human rights standards and translated them into national laws, such as by guaranteeing rights to health and education, and establishing protections against gender-based violence. Learn what human rights instruments your country has ratified, and get involved with calls to implement and monitor them. One starting point might be your own locality; some municipalities have applied international standards to local laws.