Nelson Mandela Day is recognized each year by the United Nations on July 18, Mandela’s birthday, to commemorate his legacy of struggle for freedom and social justice. The theme for Mandela Day 2021 is action to address global poverty.
Unifor is pleased to mark Mandela Day 2021 with the announcement of Unifor Social Justice Fund contributions of $375,000 to the Canadian Humanitarian Coalition to provide:
- Health care services to low income persons in Caracas, Venezuela, in cooperation with CLWR, Development Agency of Lutheran Communities.
- Health care and maternal health services to at-risk persons in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in cooperation with World Vision Canada.
- Social development programs for vulnerable groups and victims of Gender Based Violence in Mali, in cooperation with Islamic Relief.
2021 has revealed global inequity in the starkest terms. Each of these projects have been selected because they will provide direct aid to low income and marginalized people already facing dire economic circumstances compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. In each case it is women and children suffering disproportionately.
Humanitarian aid is in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, but it is not nearly enough. Poverty in Canada and globally is complex and rooted in class divisions, systemic racism and sexism. To fight poverty requires a struggle for social justice and social transformations that empower workers and people living in poverty.
As Mandela said in his famous Make Poverty History speech, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings.”
“Do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.”
Since the founding of Unifor, at each convention our highest award is given in the name of Nelson Mandela for the advancement of human rights and social justice. The revolutionary example and vision of Nelson Mandela provides inspiration and fortitude for Unifor members in their daily activism and struggle for a better world.