Each year, February 20 marks World Day of Social Justice – a UN observance day, encouraging people to explore how social justice impacts those facing poverty and inequality. To mark the occasion, All We Can’s Head of Philanthropy & Individual Relationships, Jaipreet Kaur, shares a personal reflection.
Ever since I was a child, I remember having a strong affiliation with the notion of justice. Until this day, I say ‘that’s not fair, it’s unjust!’ – it doesn’t matter how big or small the situation was.
Reflecting back, I think it all comes down to my faith and its teachings. Growing up as a Sikh meant that I’ve always sought to embody values such as honesty, compassion, generosity, humility, integrity, service, and spirituality – you can see that social justice is interwoven into most of them, and a central component of the Sikh faith.
Langar, also known as the free kitchen, was a concept founded by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, which upholds equality. The kitchen is open to all and the food which is shared amongst different communities expresses the inclusiveness of oneness of all humankind.
Throughout history Sikhs have fought against injustice – another reason why justice is at the heart of all that we do. On June 1, 1984, and June 10, 1984, Operation Bluestar took place, was an attack on the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in India, the holiest place for the Sikh community. It was commanded by the Prime Minister of India at that time, and thousands of innocent Sikhs lost their lives. Some were burnt alive, women were sexually assaulted, and Gurdwara’s (Sikh temples) were dismantled. At the time, Sikhs only made up 2% of the whole Indian population. However, even after the events of Operation Bluestar in 1984, Sikhs still did not achieve equality or social justice and continue to be marginalised in India to this day for their ethnicity and religion.
When you consider some of these points, it’s easy to see why I’ve always been passionate about social justice. Working at All We Can has only amplified my passion for this. Working alongside our incredible partners and ensuring that they are in the driving seat is one of the core ways that we as individuals and as an organisation can support social justice in the communities we work in, and say goodbye to years of colonial behaviours and attitudes. We aim to fulfil people’s potential, encouraging them economically and socially.
A great example of this is one of our incredible partners in Uganda, Concern For Children and Women Empowerment (COFCAWE). COFCAWE exists to empower children, women, and their families in health, social and livelihood skills. COFCAWE works with teenage mothers, helping them acquire vital livelihood skills including tailoring and hairdressing so that they can start small businesses to provide for themselves and their children, and ensure that they have equal economic and social opportunities. Jackline, pictured above, is just one of the young women who has been supported thanks to COFCAWE’s incredible work.
You can find out more about how All We Can works together with partners and communities around the world here.