Vulnerable Sectors

While much has been done to promote a human rights culture within the context of a developmental state, there remain many South Africans who are vulnerable and whose access to their constitutional entitlements has yet to be fully realized. These include children, youth and adolescents, people living with physical or mental disabilities, elderly people, and prisoners. Each of these sectors deserves special attention from a public policy perspective; and, in line with the focus of Catholic Social Teaching on the ‘special option for the poor’, each of them must also be prioritized by the Church. There are encouraging signs that government is aware of its responsibilities: over the next few years we expect amendments to the Child Care Act; changes to labour legislation that are intended to promote youth employment and training; better conditions for prisoners, especially women and juveniles serving sentences; and further developments in social welfare policy that will affect, among other things, old-age pensions and disability grants.

Nevertheless, these sectors remain vulnerable, and it can never be taken for granted that their interests will be prioritized. Accordingly, we have chosen this as a new project for 2012 – 2014, building on the work done in our ‘Children and the Family’ project during the period 2009 – 2011.

The Sub-themes for this project are:

  • Children
  • Youth
  • Disabled
  • The Elderly
  • Prisoners