Tag Archive for Inclusion

Election Times in Nepal

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The recent holding of the first phase of local elections in Nepal and the imminent holding of the second round on June 14th are a positive sign and an important landmark in the democratic transition of the country. Nearly 50,000 candidates stood for 13,556 positions as mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and ward member in 283 local municipalities.

Since the stablishing of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, after the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency and the overthrow of the Nepalese monarchy, constant issues have happened trying to ensure a peaceful transition that promotes greater inclusion of the country’s different identity groups. In this context, the elections are seen as the engagement between different parties and the electorate.

The frequent changes in government in recent years have been detrimental to the country’s development and economic growth. Political uncertainty has made foreign investors reluctant to get involved in the area, and domestic industries have suffered the consequences of the lack of funds, deteriorating even more the situation of the most disadvantaged people.

Inclusion in the country is strongly linked to social justice and identity, and both issues greatly affect the complex Nepalese ethnic mosaic. On top of it, inclusion is linked to demands for federalism.

Local governments have an important role in the participation of all identity groups and sections of society by creating a sense of belonging. This idea was already highlighted by the Shared Societies Project in its publication on Local Government and Shared Societies.

Although vote counting results are still trickling in, the Kathmandu Post reports that the CPN-UML is leading the nationwide vote count, followed by the Nepali Congress, with the CPN-Maoist Centre in third place. The final results will be revealed in the next few days and the second round of local polls will be held in the four remaining southern provinces on June 14th. The outcome of this election will be crucial in determining the future direction of democratic Nepal.

In this context, the Club de Madrid’s Shared Societies Project (SSP) strives to aid Nepal’s quest for inclusion by engaging with local partners to work towards the incorporation of all voices in the democratic transition of the country.

For a more detailed account of the provisional election results, click here.

Malinas: the epitome of inclusion

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In an article published on May 25th, El País highlights the vast multicultural mosaic of Malinas, a Belgian city situated just 25 kilometres away from Brussels whose citizenry is made up of 128 different nationalities and religions. In times of pressing terrorist threats and constant polarization, the official records show that this particular city has managed to keep its Muslim residents away from joining radicalized ISIS forces in Syria. This relative success can be explained by a “carrot and stick” approach that has focused on providing more resources to the police, more security cameras and, most importantly, comprehensive initiatives of inclusion. These initiatives include after-school centres for vulnerable youth, investments in public spaces and no-segregation policies for the development of living spaces.

The author includes the testimony of Alexander Van Leuven, an anthropologist specialized in anti-radicalization who claims that what makes Malinas different in terms of inclusiveness is the fact that everyone within the community is considered to be a valuable citizen, regardless of his or her background or financial means. The egalitarian strategy of the city ensures that anyone with talent and hard work can have a worthy future. In the words of its Mayor, Bart Somers, the key is to leave behind the clichés of seeing Muslims as either victims or criminals and moving forward with an inclusive vision where everyone has the opportunity of a prosperous life.

The Salaam Mechelen project, an initiative started in 1995, perfectly exemplifies this vision. The gist of the project is to use soccer as a means to unite the community: players of all nationalities and origins who are required to display exemplary academic performances in order to play and get together to enjoy the activity in an atmosphere of respect for the rival.

Malinas, the “city of hope”, demonstrates that having an integrated and cohesive society is not only possible under the right policies of inclusiveness, but also highly desirable.

To see the original article in Spanish, click here.

*Featured image by Demi Alvarez.

“A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities”

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In an age when division and polarization seem to be the norm in globalization, London’s Sadiq Khan is passionately advocating for a more integrated society. Speaking at City Hall on November 14th at the Mayor of London’s Social Integration Conference, Khan commented in front of an audience of mayors from around the globe on the need for integration in society:

A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities; It breeds mistrust, it grows anxiety and the fear of crime, and it can fuel the development of division.

He warned his fellow mayors against a lax approach to solving the issues of division in cities, commenting “A hands-off approach to social integration simply doesn´t work.” He elaborated that:

Promoting social integration must mean assuring that people of different faiths, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and generations don’t just tolerate one another or live side by side, but actually meet and mix with one another on a genuine level and connect in meaningful ways. Perhaps as friends and neighbours as well as citizens.

More than just commenting on the moral need for integration within cities, Khan spoke on the tangible benefits of social integration. He commented on this, saying that social integration “can help reduce mental health issues, it can stop the vulnerable from becoming isolated, and it can enable people to contribute fully to their community, increasing social mobility and helping people develop new skills and fulfil their potential.”

As a first step the Mayor of London mentioned “spreading greater understanding of the problem within cities, administrations and communities” adding that “there is no one project that will fix this, it will require work and effort across the board”.
We are pleased to see Mr. Khan’s remarks align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity, especially when he makes the important point that it is not enough to tolerate people living side by side.

 

Picture credit: http://www.newstatesman.com/

Fostering Inclusion and Empowerment: The contribution of Women in Nagaland

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Promoting equality and social inclusion in Nagaland, India is the goal of Kheshili Chishi of the Indigenous Women´s Forum for North-East India (IWFNEI) who hosted a workshop on the role of women in peace building between tribal groups and the promotion and protection of indigenous rights for women. Speaking fervently about empowerment and the exercising of rights, Chishi focused on peace building not only in times of conflict but at all times, saying, “Simply talking is not enough unless you put yourself into action. Each one of us has to shoulder the responsibility.

Furthermore, the workshop stressed the need for equal access to healthcare and work, emphasizing the importance of women´s political participation. In doing so, the workshop also related heavily to SSP´s commitments on institutional arrangements, service provisions, and inter-community development, and is a practical example of the ideas emerging from the Women and Shared Societies Working Group on the active role women can play in overcoming intergroup conflict, all focused on creating greater social cohesion.

For more information, the full article from the Morung Express News can be found here.

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