To Foster Social Justice, Zambia “needs to expand economic opportunities”: Jesuit Scholars

The official logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Credit: JCTR

Zambia can foster social justice through the expansion of “economic opportunities and diversification”, officials of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) in the Southern African nation have said in their message for the World Day of Social Justice.

The World Day of Social Justice has been an annual event marked on February 20 since it was declared by the United Nations (UN) following the review of the Declaration of Copenhagen and Program of Action for Social Development on 26 November 2007.

On 10 June 2008, the International Labor Organization (ILO) endorsed the UN declaration on Social Justice for Fair Globalization, a declaration that reportedly “became a powerful reaffirmation of ILO values that works towards helping achieve progress and social justice in the context of globalization.”

This year’s celebration has been marked under the theme, “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment.”

In their Monday, February 21 statement on the occasion of the World Day of Social Justice, JCTR officials say for Zambia “to grow jobs for the future, the country needs to expand economic opportunities and diversification. This will be a sure way of promoting social justice and of commemorating the World Day of Social Justice.”


They add that the theme for this year’s observance reinforces the urgency of job creation as a means to expand economic opportunities for all as the Southern African nation embarks on the recovery from COVID-19 challenges. 

Officials of the Zambia-based research institute add that “social justice is only possible when effective steps are taken to address the rising inequalities such as unequal access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

JCTR officials appreciate the Zambian government for revising the minimum wage and conditions of employment and for introducing other policies in the health and social protection sectors saying the initiatives have gone a long way in cushioning the citizens from economic hardships. 

“Despite placing decent employment and employment creation as a priority at the center of the Government’s plans in line with the long-term Vision 2030,” the Jesuit scholars say, “there has been a persistent weakness with regards to implementation and measurement of employment creation.” 

One of the persistent challenges is the “non-reporting of employment creation targets in all national budgets (alongside the macro-economic objectives targets of economic growth and inflation),'' they say. 

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To address the challenge, JCTR officials urge the Hakainde Hichilema-led government to make deliberate efforts “to clearly spell out strategies in the Eighth National Development Plan on how government is going to achieve employment creation targets. Management and investments towards creation of decent employment in Zambia remains imperative and cannot be left to chance.”

They add, “Measures such as those contained in the Employment Code No.3 of 2019 that seek to create better conditions for workers and guarantee minimum standard, require that there must be creation of jobs in the first place.” 

There is “a great need” to begin reporting on employment creation targets in all national budgets, JCTR officials say in their February 21 statement.

While the scholars recognize human labor as an important factor for economic transformation, they however note that labor should not be viewed “entirely as a factor of production without the consideration of a human face.”

“Every person is entitled to opportunities that help them earn a living without demeaning or undermining an individual’s dignity,” JCTR say, and continue, “Decent employment creation therefore provides citizens of the nation with forms of sustainable livelihoods where they have access to income to demand for goods and services that allow them to live dignified lives.”


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.