From government, private sectors, development organizations, social parties, families to me and you, the focus has shifted into one question, “How inclusive are we?” Are we achieving the 30% rule?
In a global community filled with so much diversity, we are more accustomed to diverse human characteristics than previous generations. The 21st-century generation is putting more emphasis on the inclusion of different people, their races, beliefs, cultures, ideologies, and abilities notwithstanding.
We are now recognizing every individual is unique and different. The various human differences have drawn humans apart with a sense of superiority. Yet these human differences exemplify the rich dimensions of diversity in the world.
Diversity is everywhere in our families, schools, workplaces, social gatherings. Knowing that means understanding and celebrating the interdependence of humanity. We must encourage understanding each other's differences in a safe, unbiased, unpolitical, and positive environment.
Every community has battled with diversity issues, which is not necessarily bad. It happens when something or someone is different or stands out in a specific group, such as being dark among white people or a woman among men. Often, standing out does not favour a person in this context.
How then can we address the diversity problem? Through Inclusion.
There are many definitions of the word “inclusion.” It can be defined as “a way of thinking or being that ensures everyone belongs.” Simply put, inclusion is a state of mind and the general outlook on perception and interaction. If I do not recognize someone, I cannot accommodate them.
Inclusion is emphasizing that no one should be left behind, leaving a seat at each table for everyone, and inviting everyone to the party and letting them dance too.
We are talking about full participation and involvement, equality, and non/discrimination. In formal setups, inclusion is a theoretical concept figuring out a theoretical solution to diversity. However, on the ground, inclusion is a practical solution.
One initiative towards promoting inclusion is the Girl Child Network, which runs an inclusive education program in public schools. In 2021, 160 primary school children with disabilities and some without vowed to be Champions of Inclusion. The children are part of a project that has seen 16 public and private schools implement inclusive education.
During one of their meetings, something fascinating happened. As the children with hearing impairments communicated among themselves, the non-disabled children were in awe and desired to learn sign language. Every other child wanted to help their counterparts who could not see or walk to be part of the play activities.
Children tend to have a better understanding of inclusion. They understand that while we are all different, we are human beings, and each one of us has the right to belong.
Inclusion might be the new buzzword in today’s generation, but it is also the future in the next generation.