Through the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, governments around the world have committed themselves to a global partnership to fight poverty. However, poverty can only be eradicated once marginalised individuals and groups experience equality, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, disabilities or age. That is why the term social inclusion is frequently used today in discussions on sustainable development and reversing poverty.
But what exactly does social inclusion refer to and how can development organisations and government agencies contribute to inclusive transformation processes that will improve circumstances for all people to take part in society? Such transformation processes are important for ensuring that marginalised individuals and groups can influence decisions affecting their lives and that they can enjoy equal access to markets, social services and various political, social and physical spaces. These changes may in turn increase people’s security over their livelihoods.
This specialisation has been designed to tackle the problems of marginalisation head on, by equipping students with specific competences needed to understand and define the afore mentioned contextual factors, reduce inequities and improve the social and economic conditions for everyone. These competences are taught through an array of academic knowledge and professional skills development. After a 9-month taught programme, students will spend three months conducting their own research and writing a thesis.
This specialisation places a strong focus on gender and youth, because as empirical evidence demonstrates, development strategies that do not stimulate gender equality and empowerment and full participation of women and youth are less successful. Understanding differences between men and women is a good starting point in learning to address other inequities in society, because gender inequality restricts general progress.
The emphasis on youth is particularly important, because youth have the potential to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity in developing countries. This is particularly needed in the agricultural sector, from which the younger generation has an overwhelming tendency to forsake, seeking greater financial security and other assumed attractions of city life. Engaging future generations of young people in the agricultural sector is essential for a healthy and sustainable world food system, so understanding the challenges youth face is essential.
Graduates of the Rural Development, Social Inclusion, Gender and Youth specialisation have developed specific competences useful in defining the needs and interests of marginalised people, promoting and mainstreaming social inclusion in rural development and service delivery, and recommending internal adjustments within their organisation. They are professionals who facilitate change and community development, transform social processes, and enhance gender equality and social equity.
If you feel that it is time to bring social inclusion to the forefront and improve the well-being of all people, then come and join the Social Inclusion, Gender and Youth specialisation and allow us to prepare you for the challenges that need to be solved.