In the past two decades, there has been steady progress in achieving socio-economic development, promoting wider support for democratic values and strengthening collaborative relationships among governments, social institutions and civil society worldwide. However, inequality and exclusion not only continue, but are intensifying and increasing in many parts of the world. This is taking place both within and between countries.
Many societies are facing negative social conditions, such as marginalization of certain groups and/or communities. Oviously, this disparity generates problemas that evolve and seem to have no end.
To prevent the further increase of social tensions, it is vital that to have strategies and tools for assessing the realities and addressing existing challenges in a more proactive, constructive and holistic way. By doing so, our society will become prepared when facing challenges and and better at regulating emerging inequalities.
In 1995, during the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, it was affirmed that social integration was one of the key goals of social development and that the aim was to create a “society for all”.
Needles to say that crafting a society for all is a moral obligation. An obligation that must reflect the commitments to upholding fundamental human rights and principles of equality and equity.
It is extremely important to understand that inequalities, based on unsatisfactory distribution of wealth, reduce social mobility and ultimately exert a negative impact on growth, productivity and well-being of society as a whole.
As a consequence, the promotion of social integration and inclusion will develop a society that is safer, more stable and more just.
social integration and inclusion
The significance of the concept of social integration and inclusion has been increasingly recognised in recent years.
Social Inclusion is somewhat of a slippery term; a term that should be understood before used. Social integration is understood as a dynamic and principled process of promoting the values, relations and institutions that enable all people to participate in social, economic, cultural and political life on the basis of equality of rights, equity and dignity. Further more, It is the process in which societies participate in order to foster societies that are even, safe and fair.
There are many things that we could do in order to create a more inclusive society. One of them, in our point of view, is to adress certain issues that although important, people prefer to look the other way when confronted with them.
The first one, a commitment to the elimination of child poverty. It is really simple: if children are to become something, to be the future (phrase that I have heard all my life), they need a certain standing in our communities.
Children and youth should be taught about their skills when promoting and defending their rights, solving their own conflicts and contributing in the decision-making process.
Secondly, a discussion about poverty is, after all, a conversation about inequality. The unfair income distribution makes the development of our people, our economies, our future a primordial concern. Income disparity has the potential to eat into inclusion due to the fact that it out social mobility at risk.
Poverty and work
Conversely, in distinction to poverty and unemployment which focus on individuals or households, social exclusion is primarily concerned with the relationship between the individual and society, and the dynamics of that relationship.
It is while income poverty is only one possible reason why social exclusion takes place. Persistent or recurrent unemployment can generate social exclusion directly as the involuntarily unemployed are excluded from the world of work, an important aspect of citizenship and participation.
It is primordial to work with youth, minority, disabled and women leaders to break down barriers to their full participation in community and national decision-making processes.
But this are only words. Serious words about a serious subject but only words that have been typed. The truth is far more complicated, never simple, it has many side, too many variables and is knocking at our doors.
A serious problem
For example, Europe faces huge challenges in reducing inequality and social exclusion. At the same time, Europe has great potential to achieve this change. Supporting inclusive, innovative and reflective societies is a prerequisite in order to achieve a successful integration.
In order to tackle this huge issue the Societal Challenge of the Horizon 2020 program has been developed. It aims to provide solutions and supporting innovation and inclusive societies.
It concentrates in four basic parts:
1. Economic recovery and inclusive and sustainable long-term growth.
2. The global environment in which the EU operates is constantly evolving.
3. Reversing inequalities in Europe. To do this, it is primordial to foster a social and economic framework that promotes fairness and sustainability in Europe.
4. A better understanding of Europe’s cultural and social diversity and of its past.
It is primordial to point out that, social exclusion has become one of the important themes in contemporary social policy debates in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Some of the OECD contries are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain, Turkey, UK and USA, amongst others.
The definition of “overall poverty” adopted by the United Nations talks of ‘social discrimination and exclusion’ and of ‘lack of participation in decision-making civil, social and cultural life’.
Social exclusion is a singularity more closely related to geographic than to individual factors. This is a direct consequence of the fact that in many cases we depend on proximity, mobility, among others, can interfere with the concentration of difficult socio-economic scenarios.
Finally, one should point out that social exclusion is not a certain aftermath of a particular constellation of circumstances. All in all something is cristal clear: social exclusion is a complex and multi-dimensional process. It involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services.
It is the powerlessness to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in a society. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole. After all that has been said and done, after all the advances that we have made, we are lacking in our hearts… we need a society for all.