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Pandemic revealed inequalities in society

The UN General Assembly declared 20 February a World Day of Social Justice. On this day, we raise awareness on the issues of poverty, gender inequality, unemployment and social exclusion. "Everyone is born free with the same dignity and equal rights, which are supposed to be guaranteed by the environment in which we live. However, the reality of many persons contacting the institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman is frequently different. The coronavirus pandemic further added to the mosaic of inequality in society and subsequently pointed to the lack of observance of the principle of social justice. It seems that welfare and the provision of equal rights for all social groups have been shaken and subordinated to other interests in recent years, which is why a discussion on these issues is extremely important," believes Peter Svetina, the Human Rights Ombudsman.

In his opinion, social justice cannot depend on the relevant political will or budgetary financial injections. The only means for increased social justice and reduced inequality, poverty and consequences of the climate and post-pandemic crises are long-term active policies or reforms in the labour market, the health system and the system of social security, the Ombudsman is certain. He also asserts that the fact that social inclusion is one of the fundamental objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is important, but no time is left as 2030 will soon be upon us. "This very moment, the competent authorities should focus their attention towards increasing the social inclusion of everyone, especially young people, the elderly, the disabled and other most vulnerable groups. With the increase of prices, not only of raw materials, energy products and real estate, but also of the basic living costs and goods, many people have found themselves in great distress and also with no work, while many face the issue of fair remuneration for their work," highlights Svetina. 

With the emergence of uncertain or atypical forms of labour, which do not provide individuals with security and suitable labour law protection when they are forced to open companies, become self-employed entrepreneurs, work through employment agencies, etc., the values arising from the right to work are further called into question. If we want to ensure social responsibility to its full extent, we must make sure that all employers first protect their employees accordingly. Ombudsman Svetina believes that the example set by the state, which actively cares for the dignity of each citizen and their fundamental rights, is crucial.