ISLAMABAD:Pakistan launched on Tuesday the National Coalition for Social Justice, reinforcing the recognition that all women and men have the right to pursue their material well-being and spiritual development in conditions of freedom, security, equity and human dignity.

Launching the national coalition on the occasion of ‘World Day of Social Justice’, in Islamabad on Tuesday, Pakistan underscores its commitment to a fairer and more inclusive society.

The Global Coalition for Social Justice is a ground-breaking initiative aimed at intensifying collective efforts to urgently address social justice deficits and to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Decent Work Agenda.

It creates a collaborative space for action, dialogue, and advocacy, in which partners shape individual and collective opportunities for concrete actions and tangible outcomes. The ultimate goal will be to achieve a greater balance amongst sustainable development’s economic, social, and environmental dimensions, significantly reduce inequalities and poverty, and meet essential needs and opportunities worldwide.

With the decision to create a National Coalition for Social Justice, Pakistan has taken the first step in implementing commitments made when Pakistan became the first country with both government, employer and worker partnership in the ILO-launched Global Coalition for Social Justice last year.

The commemorative meeting was hosted by the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, and was attended by representatives from key stakeholders in the world of work.

Driven by the urgency to address widening disparities in the world of work, the participants at the ceremony recognized the challenges posed by climate change, shifting demographics, technological advancements, and the evolving landscape of employment. They stressed the critical need for a coordinated response to address such disparities and build fairer, more inclusive societies.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary of ministry of overseas Pakistani and human resource development, Dr Arshad Mahmood stated that “one of the most pressing issues we face is the gender gap in the labour force, with women comprising only about 21 per cent of the Pakistani workforce.

Discrimination and inequalities not only impede economic growth but also exclude a significant portion of the population from the labour market. They undermine social progress, and most importantly, they violate fundamental human rights, he said.

Dr Mahmood further added that while the government has taken steps to address these issues, including passing laws to protect women’s rights and providing support to women entrepreneurs, more concerted efforts are needed to tackle the root causes of these inequalities.

Country Director of International Labour Organization (ILO) in Pakistan, Geir Tonstol stated that “today, far too many people are denied access to quality education, decent jobs, and social protection, making the quest for social justice more important than ever.”

The establishment of the National Coalition for Social Justice presents a historic opportunity to focus on injustices in the world of work and promote cooperation for an inclusive and equitable world of work for all and everywhere, he said.

President of the Pakistan Worker’s Federations, Chaudhry Naseem Iqbal said that the national coalition marks a significant milestone for the workers’ movement in Pakistan, as the actions outlined within the coalition align with the advocacy efforts undertaken by workers’ organizations over the decades.

The commitment from the three Tripartite constituents today is a crucial step forward, laying the foundation to transform Social Justice from an aspiration into a tangible reality.”

President of the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan, Malik Tahir Javed lauded the announcement of national coalition and firmly believed that social justice was not merely an ideal but a practical tool for achieving equitable and sustainable development. “The cornerstone of our commitment lies in ensuring decent work for all – a concept that forms the bedrock of our endeavors,” Malik Tahir Javed said.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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