Tag Archive for social inclusion

Women in India advocate for their right to work

women india

A recent feature by the New York Times —In India, a Small Band of Women Risk It All for a Chance to Work—, highlights the continued obstacles that women in the country face in obtaining and holding jobs. India may be the world´s largest democracy but a vast swath of the population still lack basic rights and necessities – people such as Geeta and Premwati, women who have braved ostracism and much physical violence to continue working at nearby factories and continue earning their daily salary of 200 rupees, or 3 dollars.

Indeed, that is where the trouble stems from. For decades the main source of income for the women of Peepli Khera (Rajasthan State) , where Geeta and Premwati live, has been begging. In the past year however, many women were able to find employment in newly opened factories and have begun to out-earn men, undermining the old order. As a result, the men, led by village chief Roshan, decreed that women should not work in the factory, supposedly to avoid sexual advances by other men. “Life was much better 20 years back, ” he says. “It was a nice society. Now women are going out and meeting other strange men.”

In an unprecedented move though, the women fought back, taking their case to court even as they risked ostracism from everyone they knew and physical violence to them and their loved ones.
The story faced by women like Geeta and Premwati is not unique – all over the world, millions of women and other historically marginalized groups are subject to continued oppression and injustice. This is a major challenge that must be overcome if a Shared Society is ever to be built.

The Club de Madrid has developed the Shared Societies Project as a way to achieve an integrated society. In this framework it has developed 10 Commitments, including Commitment V:

Take steps to deal with economic disadvantages face by sections of society who are discriminated against, and ensure equal access to opportunities and resources”

While stories articles such as this one may appear discouraging, simply the fact that they are getting attention builds the awareness needed to produce change.


Photo credit: Andrea Bruce, NYT

Minority Voices


The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.

More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.

The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).

One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.

With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.

Shared Societies in Guatemala – Overcoming social exclusion

Mejoremos Guate

The CEO of the Guatemalan Development Foundation (FUNDESA), Juan Carlos Zapata, recently published an article ¨How Guatemala Is Tackling Its Social Issues¨ in the Americas Quarterly‘s latest edition. Fundesa is a private non-profit think tank formed by Guatemalan entrepreneurs in their personal capacity, who have been working on improving social inclusion on the back of last year’s poor evaluation of Guatemalan in the Americas Quarterly´s 2013 Social Inclusion Index.

This work, through an initiative called Mejoremos Guate (Let’s Make Guatemala Better), emphasized that promoting active and direct dialogue has resulted in increasing of public expenditure on human development, in particular, through the support of the Intercultural Commission, a group of Indigenous people and private sector actors; who are actively engaged in promoting actions on social development issues.  A direct result is the deepening participation of indigenous peoples in international discussion forums such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Ensuring the sustainability of these actions represents a major challenge that lies ahead. At this point the Shared Societies Project is playing a significant role in advocating and supporting initiatives aimed at overcoming social exclusion. On 2013, the Club of Madrid organised a mission to Guatemala City in which the project exchanged ideas about the importance of building partnership at the local level between the state and political leaders, civil society, religious institutions and the private sector, as an effective way to address the challenges of achieving an inclusive society.

In Guatemala, while some progress has being made in terms of social inclusiveness thanks to the joint actions between all stakeholders, issues still remain unresolved; the Shared Societies Project is committed to supporting national efforts in making progress towards building the consensus needed to develop effective public policies in order to achieve sustainable Shared Societies.

Mejoremos Guate is a good example of the mechanism of Consulta Previa (prior consultation in policy and planning with affected groups) in practice.  On July 16 the Club of Madrid had the opportunity to share its work-in-progress initiative on Consulta Previa in Peru at the launching of the Americas Quarterly issue on “The Perils and Promises of Consulta Previa” in New York. According to Christopher Sabatini the editor-in-chief of AQ, the adoption and implementation of the Consulta Previa processes in Latin America ¨represents one of the defining issues in politics, economics, and investment in the region¨, and a critical step in promoting a society based on respect for diversity and minority rights.

Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, a new project by Kannan Arunasalam


Filmaker and journalist Kannan Arunasalam has launched last 15 July his new film Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, which brings the religious diversity in Myanmar into focus.

This project seeks to stimulate discussion and move audiences towards recognising, accepting and celebrating diversity in this country, featuring individuals that represent Myanmar’s different religious communities and making visible the kinds of inter-faith connections and engagement that take place naturally around this country.

Kannan Arunasalam uses documentary, photography and multimedia forms of storytelling. He was born in Jaffna (Sri Lnaka), grew up in London and returned to Sri Lanka in 2004. Kannan now splits his time between Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United Kingdom. His work have been awarded and screened at international film festivals, winning awards and has been broadcasted on Al-Jazeera English language channel. His first film Kerosene won best documentary short at the South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013, Seattle; and his subsequent documentary short The Story of One won the inaugural Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation grant prize in 2013.

Myanmar Portraits of Diversity  trailer is already available and the complete film will be on line for free in the coming days at Facebook.

Facebook Page of the film

Youtube channel of the film



Expressing Social Inclusion in New Ways

Day Mer Festival

Since the weekend is almost here and newspapers around the world have forgotten about positive news…we are going to focus on it but need your help!!

This blog has the intention of bringing complex yet pertinent questions concerning social inclusion in contemporary societies to the table.The Shared Societies Project is designed with the idea that societies are most likely to be peaceful, democratic and prosperous when leaders and citizens recognize the value of diversity and take active measures to build a shared society. Unfortunately as you see in our posts, this means talking about news, events, reports, and analysis that are not always positive, specially those more oriented to social sciences. However, there are more paths to social inclusion than politics, legislation or economics. Through art and culture we can creatively address real-world issues and build spaces for interaction, dialogue and deeper engagement.

During the upcoming weeks, we will be posting some examples and good practices of social inclusion through different expressions of art (music, urban art, etc) and we hope that you can enlighten us with other examples! This week we are focusing on festivals, yes, FESTIVALS! Many cities and regions around the world have realized that cultural and art festivals are a wonderful way to generate inclusion.

Here is a good example of a Festival to promote social inclusion: the Day-Mer Culture and Arts Festival. This festival takes place during the summer in North London and is organized by the Turkish and Kurdish Community Center. It is made possible by Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot migrant workers’ determination, sacrifice, and hard work.

More information about the Day-Mer Festival

What other festivals can you think of that creatively address inclusion and open dialogues for deeper engagement?

The Americas Quarterly’s Social Inclusion Index!

Our friends from the Americas Quarterly have released a fantastic and useful document: The Social Inclusion Index - a way to measure, track and compare social inclusion in the Americas.

You can read here their article presenting the Index:

What really is social inclusion? Implicitly, most of us understand it as more than development; it includes elements of political participation, social rights, civil liberties, and equal access — across race, ethnicity and gender — to social services and labor markets”.

» Read more..


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: