Danny Boyle (Parliamentary and Policy Officer – BEMIS Scotland).
Scotland is changing. The public appetite for progressive, informed and collaborative development within issues which affect our everyday lives and those of future generations has showed little sign of abating since September 18th 2014.
Social Justice is both personal and at the heart of our communal aspirations. It is an experience we want to live in our everyday lives and a process through which we strive to make Scotland a country which reflects the potential and diversity of its citizens.
The 2014 Independence Referendum was the catalyst for a titanic increase in participative, diverse, democratic citizenship. Inherent within this process were the hopes and aspirations of the people of Scotland. Amongst others education, health, employment, housing, equality, human rights, internationalism, trident and Scotland’s place in the UK and the world were articulately debated, considered and discussed in front of global audience.
From the streets, civic and community centres of our cities, towns and villages. Down the local pub, around the dinner table and in churches, mosques, synagogues and temples the richness, confident and dynamic diversity of the people of Scotland evolved into questions, solutions, aspirations and belief built around a pivot of social justice.
The 2014 Independence Referendum was the catalyst for a titanic increase in participative, diverse, democratic citizenship. Inherent within this process were the hopes and aspirations of the people of Scotland.
The Social Justice agenda is not new. It has been a cornerstone of political theory and discussion since the foundations of representative and equitable framework of governance were set down and progressed by the ancient Greeks.
At its heart is creating fair and equitable responses to the needs of diverse citizens. Not elite groups or vested interests and certainly not systems upon which the criteria for social justice is benchmarked against a profit sheet.
A true democracy underpinned by an objective of ‘social justice’ will always place the people at the heart of the process, in its inception, development and implementation. A process articulated by diverse people, with varying interests combined by a spirit of humanity, cultural diversity and active citizenship.
In 2015 Scotland has never been more diverse. The 2011 Scottish Census indicated that over 8% of the population identified themselves as being from ethnic or cultural minority communities. Within this 8% there are intricate, nuanced and beautifully unique identities which offer significant opportunities for Scotland.
In the context of the social justice process our diversity is a strength. Invigorating and informed ideas reside within us all regardless of age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or belief.
People and communities are also best placed to articulate what ‘social justice’ means to them. As it’s experienced on a day to day basis. How the process should be informed and how it can be made better in the days, weeks, months, years and decades to come.
In truth it should never end but it must come alongside action, outcomes and tangible change.
Scotland, all of us, are in an advantageous place to continue the process of social justice and it is right that the emphasis on its design should reside in the knowledge and experience of diverse citizens.
BEMIS Scotland are the national Ethnic and Cultural Minorities led umbrella body supporting the development of the Ethnic Minorities Voluntary Sector in Scotland and the communities that this sector represents.
Our vision is of a Scotland that is equal, inclusive and responsive: A society where:
people from the diverse communities are valued, treated with dignity and respect
have equal citizenship, opportunities and equality of life