TOPICS: Social inclusion

In Nepal, Social Exclusion is described as the experience of groups which are systematically and historically disadvantaged because they are discriminated against on the basis of their caste, gender, ethnicity, disability or religion or an overlapping combination of these.

Exclusion takes place in public institutions like the legal system or health system as well as social institutions like caste or gender systems or networks of political patronage. Socially constructed power relations between women and men establish the roles, responsibilities, opportunities and decision making authority among them, usually positioning women as subordinate to men.

These gender relations are a cross-cutting dimension of discrimination with varying degrees, across all social groups in Nepal.

Likewise, Social Inclusion is the removal of institutional barriers and the enhancement of incentives to increase the access of diverse individuals and groups to development opportunities. This means changes in policies, rules, social practices and shifts in people’s perspectives and behavior towards the excluded groups.

Both gender and social inclusion (GESI) issues must be addressed simultaneously if sustained change in the lives of the excluded women and men is to be achieved.

Our nation has a population of different castes and ethnic groups. Over centuries some social groups have received better opportunities than others because of gender, caste and ethnicity based practices. These have led some groups to do well and enjoy the benefits of progress in the country.

For others it has led to exclusion. Social identity groups such as Brahmans, Chhetris, Newars and those who live in urban areas have prospered while many other communities such as the Dalits, Indigenous Janajatis etc and people living in remote districts have not.

The goal of social inclusion was made one of the four pillars of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2002--2007) due to what most observers view as the root cause of conflict in the country.

The sector of infrastructure projects in Nepal experiences many challenges due to political instability and politicized unions and a massive shortage of workers as most migrate for foreign employment opportunities.

Lack of awareness program and education, technical focus and lack of understanding of service providers on how to address complex social issues hamper inclusion efforts in this sector.