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Sunday 18 March 2018

Social inclusion is a must

Sandrine Rattan writes a weekly column for the Newsday. 

“Diversity and inclusion are always something industries should strive for.” (Halima Aden)

The year 2017 is out and 2018 is in, A new year brings new things, new ideas, new concepts and even new beginnings.

For years there have been numerous complaints from women across the social strata who feel excluded from either the receipt of social goods and/or services or their inability to access basic amenities for one reason or another.

Our national anthem includes an extremely poignant line, “Every creed and race find an equal place,” but as a society do we really adhere to this line which sums up the need for social inclusion? By its own definition, social inclusion is a critical factor in successfully developing policies geared towards equity and justice in societies.

Speaking at the tenth session of the intergovernmental council of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations Programme, Sarah Cook, former director at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, suggested that “social inclusion is a significant factor in development, and requires policies that recognise the importance of societal levels of analysis, not simply economic or individual indicators.”

Social inclusion, also known as social integration, characterises societies in which every individual has rights and, more importantly, a voice that ensures inclusion as opposed to discrimination and exclusion.

Here in TT, calls from the dispossessed, the needy and the differently-abled (though some inroads were made) still remained unanswered by a number of basic support services.

To be socially included, one must feel a sense of belonging, some levels of acceptance within the community and by extension in the national community; feel valued as a citizen; enjoy social relationships with those they so choose.

Many women have expressed disappointment at feeling excluded by their very presence in particular national spaces upon their visits to request a specific good and/or service. Suffice it to say though we live in a world that is so well-developed, both men and women who are differently-abled are still scorned by certain sections of the national community, and some victims of gender-based violence still feel ashamed to share their experience or even report it.

Remember, being socially excluded creates negative and unwanted feelings in the minds of those so affected, and owing to the depth of those feelings, their entire psyche and basic ability to survive are also affected.

Bullying both at schools and other public spaces comes from a place of exclusion, as such victims are forced to think that they don’t deserve a place in that particular space. Not being socially included, a person becomes extremely introverted as he/she sometimes has no alternative except to accept their condition as a new normal, which is indeed unfortunate.

For 2018, I am pleading with policymakers, politicians and all those sitting on the fence of influence to rethink the current process of distribution of social goods and services in the many communities which comprise TT, as the silence by those excluded in no way means agreement.

Sandrine Rattan is a communications and branding consultant/author/empowerment builder and president of the International Women’s Resource Network (IWRN). Contact: thecorporatesuitett@gmail.com or intlwomensresourcenetwork@gmail.com


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