A little over a decade after the day was first declared, we celebrate the United Nations World Day of Social Justice every year on February 20th. The 2021 theme of “A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy” is fitting given the past year’s mass rise of digitization of every sector of our lives, from education to employment. Consequently, the gap between those with access and those without access to digital resources has only grown.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented employment losses in 2020, with 114 million global jobs lost. Moreover, these job losses have been greatest in the low-skilled sectors that are the backbone of many developing countries’ economies. And this mass labor loss only furthers the existing disparities between the world’s developing and developed nations. With that said, FINCA remains more committed than ever to social justice and our goal of financial inclusion and access to life-changing resources for all.
Below is an example of how FINCA strives to decrease inequalities worldwide, many of which are growing due to the pandemic.
Addressing the Wage Gap through Women’s Economic Empowerment
Across the globe, 2020’s rise in unemployment has disproportionately affected women. The ILO estimates that women experienced a 1.1 percent greater employment loss due to the coronavirus pandemic than men. Additionally, a majority of the 1.7 billion unbanked adults of the world are women. This lack of access to opportunities not only keeps women impoverished but also affects their whole family and the wider community, especially during the ever-changing pandemic reality. However, FINCA Canada is working to help women overcome these inequalities, during the pandemic and always.
In the DR Congo, Eugénie Kabeya’s seamstress business lost 70 percent of its monthly revenue in direct response to the pandemic. However, per the recommendation of the local FINCA branch (at which Kabeya had been a customer for over a decade), she transitioned her business to making and selling masks locally and online. Soon, Kabeya was able to sell more than 5,000 masks. And she was even able to bring back two seamstresses she’d had to let go due to her decreased revenue. This is how empowering one woman to pursue her entrepreneurial ideas can affect and uplift an entire community.
Eugenie’s story exemplifies how empowering women through access to life-changing financial resources enables them to uplift themselves along with their families and whole communities. This is why FINCA Canada has expanded our customized financial services to women, focusing this past year especially on digital technologies. These technologies have included products like “virtual banks” to expand access to financial services without needing to be in-person. People can conduct business and bank remotely—which used to require visiting a branch—so they can still participate in productive economic activities.
The Legacy of World Day of Social Justice in 2021
World Day of Social Justice serves as a yearly reminder of the work we still need to do to provide all people—regardless of gender, race, religion or culture—with equal opportunities and resources. In light of the past year, we must include the world’s most underserved and underrepresented communities if we are to achieve global solutions to social injustice.
FINCA Canada’s goal of social justice for all can be seen through our commitment to women’s economic empowerment. Most importantly, the products and services we provide to individuals and communities on a daily basis directly impact their ability to build a more equitable future. Now more than ever, FINCA Canada remains devoted to our mission of eradicating poverty. We will continue providing opportunities for economic growth for low-income communities, during these unprecedented times and beyond.