“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” – Max de Pree
A feeling of ambiguity would surround us if we were denied legitimate opportunities and accessibility of resources available in the society because of our identities including caste, ethnicities, religion, gender and disability. These discriminatory practices lead to what we can understand as ‘social exclusion’. Certain communities are excluded from participating in the economic, social and political life resulting in denial of opportunities, choices and a voice to claim their rights. Therefore, specific groups of people are subjected to differential treatment, pushing them out of receiving the benefits of the development of a country. Social exclusion causes alienation and disenchantment of the targeted individuals or communities which appears to deviate from the established norms of the society.
As a response to the marginalization of communities, the concept of social inclusion was introduced to override the differences of race, gender, caste, specially abled and so on. It is an act of making all the groups of people within a society feel valued and as an important entity of the community and recognize their contribution towards the nation. As enshrined in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we need to protect all segments of the society from poverty, hunger and discrimination to ensure healthy living and access to education, basic facilities and information. Social inclusion acts as a policy to bridge the gap between the dominant and disadvantaged sections of a particular nation through the process of inclusive and participatory decision making. It helps in enabling the communities to fully participate in the socio-economic and political activities. It aims to eradicate social exclusion by enhancing opportunities, improving access to resources and providing with a voice to claim their rights.
A feeling of belongingness and respect is what we need to inculcate to truly make every citizen of the country fearless in communicating ideas, empathize with each other’s problems and to recognize the fact that every individual is unique in their respective forms and all of them deserve a fair chance to showcase their talent and abilities for being an asset to the society. Acceptability of diversity remains to be an integral goal for social inclusion. This concept helps the disadvantaged groups to attain knowledge and information from different domains which otherwise they are deprived of. It aims to empower and inspire the marginalized to merge with the requirements of the prevalent norms and lead a fulfilled life by enjoying equal access to public sphere and global opportunities.
In order to promote social welfare for public benefit, as a vigilant citizen, we need to provide assistance and advice to those who are excluded from the society such as providing assistance in terms of education, advocacy services and in providing skills and competence. Awareness needs to be spread to the public to be more accepting and engaging with particular communities with respect to improving the social and economic circumstances. A provision for local network group helps linking groups in a specific area experiencing similar issues and injustice. Integration into the society remains a crucial aspect for the functioning of an inclusive society.
Therefore, social inclusion is recognized to be the key element for improving the overall conditions of the excluded communities and enable them as active participatory citizens of the country. Social cohesion brings and holds individuals together to have a sense belonging amongst each other. To conclude, when you understand what inclusion is, then we can accomplish greater things together and strive towards a better and tolerant society.