*By Rosana Munyiva (May, 2015), Akili Dada Mentor
SOCIAL INCLUSION - WHAT IS IT?
Social inclusion is one of the core pillars of Sustainable Development in promoting equality; it can be referred to as the process of ensuring every individual or group has a fair chance of participating in social, economic, political and cultural aspects of the societies they live in. As such they have a voice in the decisions that affect their life and are able to take advantage of the opportunities that keep arising in their countries or societies.
Social inclusion plays a major role in the reduction of inequalities in the society and eradication of poverty.
A child living in an inclusive society has the benefits of good nutrition, health care, quality education, security, employment or entrepreneurship opportunities, property ownership, political and social participation. With social inclusion, the aspect of social mobility is greatly enhanced; a child born from a poor background can become a successful individual in his or her society.
As one great economist Jeffrey Sachs puts it, social inclusion is an unfinished business in all of the countries, both developed and developing nations. It seems surprising how this could be true in the developed nations but given what social inclusion entails, these nations have in one way discriminative practises or attitudes towards immigrants, indigenous populations, racial and gender groups to mention but a few.
WHAT DOES SOCIAL INCLUSION MEAN FOR WOMEN?
It creates a society with empowered women
Young girls can access equal opportunities in education by going to school up to the secondary and tertiary education levels. This builds up their skills set and discourages early marriages and child bearing which can set back their professional development.
They are able to get skills that make their entry in the labour market more favourable. They can enter various fields that were considered out of reach for women notably in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. They are able to negotiate for equal pay compared to their male counterparts at similar levels.
The woman is able to make informed choices about the family size she would like to have, the nutrition requirements for her and her baby/child and the nurturing of her children to become great citizens of the nation. The government ensures health facilities to support these needs are available to the women.
She is able to own land, inherit property and manage these assets without having laws that diminish these rights. This empowered woman can participate in politics and influence policy in matters that affect her and her society; in short her voice cannot be ignored, it counts as much as her fellow man’s voice.
The Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) notably the;
- 2nd goal – achieve universal primary education
- 3rd goal - promote gender equality and empowerment of women
- 5th goal - improve maternal health
Set the foundation for social inclusion for women. Given the curtain falls for these MDGs this year 2015, Sustainable Development Goals will take over and social inclusion , as mentioned before will form an integral part towards their achievement.