Tag Archive for social inclusion

Building identity through the arts

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Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the biggest in the world, houses people from all ethnic backgrounds coming from different parts of the country.

The original settlers were the Nubian people from the Kenyan/Sudanese border, mostly Muslim, living alongside the Kikuyu, the majority tribe in Nairobi, although now the majority of the tenants are Luo, Luhya and some Kamba, from the west of Kenya. There are many tensions in Kibera, particularly tribal tensions between the Luo and the Kikuyu, but also between landlord and tenant and those with and without jobs.

One man, Geoffrey Ochieng, also known as Oyoo (meaning mouse in Acholi) and a native from Kibera, is trying to create an identity for them. The TV Show Top Comic has chosen him as the funniest man in Kenya and the slum is so proud of him, his initiative for the community was been received with open arms.

Kibera Creative Arts, his own social project, aims at educating and transforming the society in the slum through the arts. A group of comedians, poets, dancers and singers used their influence to attract the youth and counteract crime.

The Spanish NGO Kubuka has helped funding the project with a new and special element: the construction of an identity for Kibera. “We have to live like brothers. You cannot permit that politics make you kill your brother”, said Oyoo to the Spanish Newspaper El País.

In the headquarter of Kibera Creative Arts everything speaks about the neighbourhood: the music, the pictures, and the handicrafts. More important than the ethnicity of the maker, the voice of the whole neighbourhood is what matters. “There is a lot of talent here”, says Oyoo, “we want to attract the youth so they don’t fall into delinquency”. What Ochieng wants is to erase all divisive ethnic components; neither Luo nor Kikuyu, everyone is from Kibera there.

He intends to show children and youth what they are able to do. “Not everyone is going to be an artist, but the arts gives them the possibility of expression”, reaffirms the comedian. “It is the art and not the violence what can help you to get out of poverty”.

As stated within the Shared Societies Commitments, promotion of respect, understanding and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and support for local communities in exploring their identity is one of the steps to deal with social division and exclusion.

 

Sources: https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/08/03/planeta_futuro/1501770958_765024.html?por=mosaico

http://www.kiberacreativearts.org/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-31540911

Consulting Indigenous communities to preserve a unique ecosystem: a first time in Chile

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In September 2017, The Rapa Nui people agreed with the Chilean Environment Ministry on the creation of a 700,000 square kilometer protected marine area around Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Due to its location, Easter Island’s ecosystem has unique coral species preserved by the traditional fishing practices that would be also protected. Chile has become one of the five countries with the largest area of marine space protected in the world.

The Environment Ministry, Marcelo Mena, introduced the agreement as part of the commitments of Chile with the community:

“it was the first time indigenous people had been consulted over the creation of a marine area in Chile.”

Overall, 642 Rapanui people voted on this unique consultation to create this area which will be administrated by 6 Rapanui representatives and 5 Chilean Government representatives.

In an interview with the Chilean Newspaper La Tercera, PokiTaneHaoa, Rapanui local leader, highlighted that the protected area would allow them not only to manage their territory but also to fight against illegal fishing and consequent loss of biodiversity. All relevant decisions regarding the sea area around the island will be overseened by its inhabitants.

As included in the Minority Rights Organization directory, indigenous people in Chile include the Mapuche, Ayamara, and the Rapanui people among others. According to the 2012 census, more than 1.7 million Chileans self-identified as indigenous: 88% as Mapuche, followed by 7% as Amara and 5% other smaller groups.

In 2007, Chile adopted the United Declaration on Indigenous Rights and, in 2008, it ratified Convention 169 of the ILO on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples which guaranteed rights to education, property, consultation and self-determination. The same year Chile adopted an indigenous policy called “Recognition: Social Pact for Multiculturalism (Re-conocer: Pacto Social por la Multiculturalidad”. In 2016, a Presidential Advisory Commission was set up with the purpose of preparing proposals in the areas of regional and territorial development and participation of indigenous communities[1].

As part of the conclusions of the Working Group on Sustainability and Shared Societies convened by the Club de Madrid through its Shared Societies Project, society and the environment, together with the economy, have been identified as the three pillars of sustainable development. Given that, this Working Group underline that “meaningful participation by all stakeholders is viable and can ensure more sustainable decision making: some are the continuation of traditional practices, some are part of devolution of local government by the state; and some are situations in which local people have taken control of their own affairs.” As a core element of the Shared Society concept “the ability of indigenous peoples not only to maintain their own cultural context but also to fulfil their responsibilities to future generations, demonstrates the significance of their own local government systems.”



[1] OECD (2017), Making Decentralisation Work in Chile. Towards Stronger Municipalities, Multi-Level Governance Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Can you imagine a supermarket without foreign products?

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In an article published by the BBC, an initiative undertaken by a supermarket located in Hamburg, Germany, was highlighted as an innovative action against xenophobia.

The Edeka Supermarket took away all foreign products from their shelves such as Spanish tomatoes and Greek cheeses replacing them by signs including the following messages:

“Our selection knows border today”

“This is how empty a shelf is without foreigners”

“This shelf is pretty boring without diversity”

Pictures of the empty shelves became viral worldwide a few weeks ahead of the recent federal elections in Germany held in September in which migration became an important issue within the political debate.

More than 1 million refugees have entered Germany since 2015, a social challenge that made German politicians raised integration and national identity as main topics of discussion. As highlighted in certain media, Chancellor Merkel’s “refugees welcome” policy in 2015 “has fueled the rise of extremist views that wants to close the country’s borders and curb the right to asylum”.

Germany, like many other countries in Europe, faces major global challenges including climate change, a demographic challenge and economic pressures from globalization and migration. It also faces specific defiance related to democracy: the rise of populism as exemplified by the rise of the AfD.

However, according the Migration Policy Index (MIPEX), which measures policies of countries to integrate migrants in Europe, Germany ranks among the top ten countries in Europe on integration policy. The index stated that “Germany’s integration policies have benefited its economy by contributing to rising employment rates and positive public attitudes towards immigrants”. In addition to this, the creation of a Federal Commissioner at the Chancellery to coordinate integration plans among ministries and federal states, has been highlighted as a good practice.

The Edeka Supermarket’s campaign promotes a Shared Societies perspective and was revealed at the right time, a few weeks ahead of the German election.  It shows the imaginative way that the issues related to migration and refugees can be highlighted and shoppers provoked to stop and think.

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.

Chicago Police Recruits More Minorities

Protesters Continue to Demonstrate Against Police Killings

At a time when interactions In the United States of America between police and minority communities it is important not to forget the efforts that are being made to address the problems. In Chicago, the police are emphasizing the recruitment and hiring of minority police officers.

Research shows that having minority cops in minority neighborhoods has a strong symbolic and physiological effects of fostering more intimate, more trusting bonds between the community and the police which at times helps to prevent needless violence. As stated by Fox News, currently, about 70% of the 14,000 officer applicants are black, Hispanic and Asian, which constitutes a 13% jump in minority applicants. Recruiters visited churches, schools, community events and advertised in Spanish to bolster interest among minorities to apply. The goal is to ¨build a police force that represents the diversity of the entire city¨ and change the ¨culture¨ of policing.[1]

The aims of the Chicago police 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. More specifically, the current efforts of the Chicago police department are tied with SSP´s Commitment X, which calls for measures to reduce intercommunity tensions and hostility and ensure that members from all communities are protected from abuse, intimidation and violence.

Hopefully the recent steps aimed at bolstering minority representation in the police force will adhere to the aims of Commitment X, especially as it emphasizes the importance of police in acting as community leaders who respect the diverse structure and ethnic nuances of areas which they guard. Having a responsible, respectful police force which is representative of its community and does not rely exclusively on force to mediate conflicts will be a step towards building a much more wholesome shared society.

 


[1] “To Rebuild Trust, Chicago Police Recruit More Minorities.” Fox2now. Fox News, 23 Feb. 2016. Web.

<http://fox2now.com/2016/02/23/to-rebuild-trust-chicago-police-recruit-more-minorities/>.

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