From racial inequality to economic injustice, our society faces numerous social problems that demand action and solutions rooted in fairness, equity, and compassion. Here are some of the most pressing social justice issues we must address in order to build a more just and humane world.

Named after the late Senator John McCain, the McCain Institute seeks to advance character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom, and human dignity. The Institute’s programs aim to strengthen democracy and solve protracted human conflicts through leadership development initiatives, research, and dialogue. It also works to address global threats like extremism, human trafficking, and pandemic disease.


Confronting The Pervasive Reality Of Systemic Racism

Racism has been an inescapable part of America’s story from its founding, and its sinister impacts still reverberate today in the form of systemic inequities that pervade society. While laws have banned racist policies of the past, racial minorities continue to face vast disparities in areas like education, employment, healthcare, and the criminal justice system.

Dismantling systemic racism will require a sweeping and sustained effort across public and private sectors to promote anti-racist policies, address discriminatory practices, and work to dismantle racist structures in society. But by coming together, we can make progress toward building a just and equitable nation that provides equal opportunities and dignity for all.

Tackling Racial Injustice In The Criminal Justice System

Perhaps nowhere are the effects of systemic racism more evident and egregious than in the U.S. criminal justice system. Studies have shown that racial minorities face higher rates of stops by police, arrests, incarceration, and harsher sentences than their white counterparts, even for the same crimes.

The so-called “War on Drugs” has led to the mass incarceration of African Americans and Latinos for nonviolent drug offenses, damaging families and communities. To remedy these injustices, we must hold police and prosecutors accountable to eliminate racial bias, end unfair policies like excessive penalties for crack cocaine, and broaden access to rehabilitation programs. Achieving equal treatment under the law is a moral imperative.

Advancing The Empowerment Of Women In Society

While women have made remarkable progress, full gender equity remains elusive in areas like pay and opportunity. Women earn less for the same work as men, face uphill battles in achieving leadership roles, and disproportionately shoulder costs of childcare and family responsibilities that impede their career and life goals.

Women also experience higher rates of domestic violence and sexual abuse, showing how deeply entrenched the power inequality is between genders. By passing laws like the Equal Pay Act, guaranteeing paid family leave and childcare, and promoting women in leadership, we can work to dismantle barriers, remedy disparities, and achieve true justice and empowerment for women in all spheres of life.

Environmental Justice

Communities with lower incomes and communities of color experience disproportionate exposure to pollution, environmental hazards, and impacts of climate change. Expanding urban industrial zones, lack of green spaces, and insufficient regulation all contribute to this staggering environmental injustice.

Regulations must be strengthened to end locating pollution sources in vulnerable communities. Investing in green infrastructure and sustainable development can improve the quality of life. As the transition to renewable energy and combat climate change occur, measures must be taken to ensure environmental benefits are shared equitably and historically disadvantaged groups have a seat at the decision-making table.