Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

Effective mainstreaming of strategies on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion is an essential reformation needed in local governments. The mainstreaming must improve the flexibility of local authorities to respond to the constraints and strengths of disadvantaged men and women, including consideration of other aspects of social identity that intersect with gender to further constrain opportunities. It ensures that people have a voice in and influence over decisions affecting their lives.

Inclusion is the process of improving the terms by which individuals and groups take part in and influence society. It aims to empower poor, disabled and marginalized people to take advantage of opportunities and create new ones.

New opportunities which integrate socially excluded groups while also being gender-responsive could significantly impact and maximize outcomes in sustainable development programs.

In developing countries such as Sri Lanka, marginalized communities are yet to be fully included in key decision making activities. Addressing grievances of vulnerable and marginalized groups such as the disabled, elderly and mono-lingual persons is not a formal institutionalized practice in most local authorities. The lack of ramps for the immobile and lack of translated documents for the mono-lingual minorities in a locality, act as examples that highlight the need to formally recognize these groups and their rights in public service delivery.

Promoting representation of these groups, will increase people’s capacity to express their views and the ways in which they do so through a variety of formal and informal channels and mechanisms.

Attention to the participation and increased influence of marginalized groups (based on ethnic, religious, age, gender, disability, and other parameters) through sensitive governance is crucial. By strengthening the approaches and processes within local governance systems we will then be able to contribute to increased equity in economic growth and participatory local governance.