by Dinna Prapto Raharja, Founder of Synergy Policies,
Associate Professor in International Relations
As new year rolls, we can’t deny that the year 2020 has really changed our society. The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of our lives and livelihood. Some of us lose jobs, experiencing difficulties to apply for new jobs. Lots of businesses are stretched by the partial lockdown or PSBB that the government has applied to the whole country for months. For real some of us have difficulties in making ends meet, to pay bills and to buy food. This pandemic is not only affecting our health, but also our life in general.
Yes, we are all affected, but there’s a cranny in our society who are affected a lot more than others. It is timely for us to assess the importance of social inclusion.
There is no single translation to Bahasa Indonesia that can define social inclusion. But we know that social exclusion has been a problem for many countries for such a long time. We know that the opposite of social inclusion is social exclusion. Social exclusion is like a wall that separates the poor and the rich. In times of crisis such as the COVID-19 crisis, such a wall becomes more apparent than ever. Such lack of inclusion may stem from discriminative regulation or attitudes from political, economic, social or cultural authorities, or from insensitivity to vulnerabilities faced by groups, or from denial of voices made by the marginalized.
No doubts, the concept of social inclusion needs to be put under the spotlight at times like this.
Social inclusion is a process to prevent or eliminate any state of exclusion and the being of left behind of some groups on the basis of respect to (human) rights, dignity, and needs from groups by recognizing their identities. In short, social inclusion is combating social exclusion.
Enshrined in the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals is the recognition to foster equity for the people involved in development, not just in availing the benefits of development but also the opportunity to participate in achieving development.
Without social inclusion, one testifies the lack or the denial of resources, rights, goods and services and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities available to the majority of people in a society that affect both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole (Levitas, et.al 2007). Others spoke about low trust to government, horizontal tensions and conflicts in society. Policymakers have a tendency to re-define the problem rather than tackling root causes of exclusion, which is simply shifting the problem elsewhere (Agulnik, Burchardt, Evans 2002). This is why mending gaps in social inclusion should not be left to personality leaders or policymakers, but rather managed through an improved system with clarity in mandate and flow of issue handling, also sufficient discretion to respond to the needs of the marginalized and the left behind.
Other than that, to have the society engaged in ‘we’ feeling might be the answer to this. We must break down the wall between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the society to actually survive as a whole.
To humanize a person, to see him or her as a human being that has equal needs just like us. At the time where the pandemics hit our society so suddenly and our society is too vast, we need to stop relying only on the government for taking care of our society. We also need to take care of our society. To encourage the vulnerable people to stay at their home by supporting their basic needs, to prioritize more vulnerable people to get health care not because of their social class, for the privileges to be able to use their voice to also support the vulnerable rights and voice.
Synergy Policies shares the importance of improving social inclusion. Our team members have been involved in discussions and policy making activities that could improve social inclusion in current and future pandemics.
So, what do you think we can do to increase our society's awareness on social inclusion? How to elevate the 'we feeling’?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.