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An Inclusion Lens

I Introduction

The Inclusion Lens was developed by Malcolm Shookner at the Population Health Research Unit, Dalhousie University, with financial support and leadership provided by the Population and Public Health Branch, Atlantic Regional Office, Health Canada, in cooperation with the Maritime Centre for Excellence in Women's Health and the Social Inclusion Reference Group, and with representation from the four Atlantic provinces.

II What are Social and Economic Inclusion?

Inclusion is a term that is familiar to most people in their everyday lives. We feel included or excluded from family, neighbourhood or community activities. Inclusion and exclusion have also been recognized as social issues in Europe since the 1970s, where they have become a central feature of public policies. In Atlantic Canada, social and economic exclusion and inclusion have become the focus of attention among those who are concerned about poverty and its many negative effects on people. People who are excluded, whether because of poverty, ill health, gender, race or lack of education, do not have the opportunity for full participation in the economic and social benefits of society.

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III What is an Inclusion Lens?

A lens is an aid to improve vision. It can also provide a new way to look at the root causes of old problems, such as poverty, discrimination, disadvantage and disability. The Inclusion Lens is a tool for analyzing legislation, policies, programs and practices to determine whether they promote the social and economic inclusion of individuals, families and communities. It will open up minds to new ways of thinking and open doors to new solutions for old problems. Ultimately, it provides a new way to encourage change that will transform society.

The Inclusion Lens is designed for use by policy makers, program managers and community leaders who work in the context of social and economic exclusion in both the public and non-profit sectors. It is also a tool for activists in social movements, such as women and people with disabilities, and community developers working toward healthy, sustainable communities. It provides a method for analyzing both the conditions of exclusion and solutions that promote inclusion and a way of beginning to plan for inclusion. It also suggests a process to begin the dialogue with excluded groups, raise awareness about how exclusion works and identify steps to move toward policies, programs and practices that will be inclusive.

* Governments at all levels can use the Inclusion Lens to analyze legislation, policies and programs to determine whether these exclude or include people who are marginalized, disadvantaged, impoverished or discriminated against.

* Non-government organizations can use the Inclusion Lens to find out if the policies, programs and practices they use exclude or include people in vulnerable situations.

*Community groups can use the Inclusion Lens for planning, development and social action to address the sources of exclusion in communities and in public policies, as well as pointing toward solutions that will be inclusive.

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IV Values: The Foundation for Inclusion

The Inclusion Lens needs a foundation of values to guide how it is used. These values arise from the work that has taken place in Atlantic Canada on social and economic exclusion and inclusion:

* Social Justice--Distribution of the social and economic resources of society for the benefit of all people

* Valuing Diversity--Recognition and respect for the diversity of cultures, races, ethnicity, languages, religions, abilities age, and sexual orientation; valuing all contributions of both women and men to the social, economic and cultural vitality of society

* Opportunities for Choice--Respect for the right of individuals to make choices that affect their lives

* Entitlement to Rights and Services--Recognition of universal entitlement to rights and services as set out in human rights covenants, charters and legislation

* Working Together--Building common interests and relationships as the basis for actions to achieve shared goals

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V Dimensions of Exclusion and Inclusion

Social and economic exclusion and inclusion can be seen along several dimensions: cultural, economic, functional, participatory, physical, political, structural and relational. There are many elements to exclusion and inclusion for each of these dimensions that should be considered in analyzing a policy, program or practice. For example, elements of exclusion could be poverty, disadvantage, inequality, discrimination, barriers to access, disability, isolation or marginalization. Elements of inclusion could be adequate income, reduced disparities, human rights, access, ability to participate, valued contribution, belonging empowerment.

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VI Looking Through the Inclusion Lens: Questions to Ask

1. How will the policy or program increase or decrease discrimination on the basis of gender, race, age, culture or ethnicity?

2. How will the policy or program increase or decrease personal income and resources available for people to participate in social and economic activity and promote income equity?

3. How will the policy or program increase or decrease isolation and access to resources?

4. How will the policy or program increase or decrease opportunities for participation in decision making?

5. How will the policy or program add or remove barriers to common spaces, safe environments and social interaction?

6. How will the policy or program protect or compromise the rights of people?

7. How will the policy or program increase or decrease opportunities for personal development and social support?

8. How will the policy or program increase or reduce access to resources

and programs for excluded groups?

Anyone can create their own inclusion lens using the template provided in the Inclusion Lens workbook. It involves answering questions about exclusion and inclusion using a participatory process that involves people who are excluded. The workbook contains a detailed set of questions to guide readers in the analysis of the problem and the identification of solutions. By answering these questions, readers develop an analysis of social and economic exclusion for a selected population, policy or program and pointers toward solutions that promote inclusion. The next step is to develop an action plan.

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VII Considerations for an Action Plan

* Population to be included

* Policy, program or practice to be changed

* Key strategies

* Who is responsible?

* Roles of partners or collaborators--who takes the lead?

* Processes of participation

* Resources needed--from where/whom?

* Timelines

* Measures of progress

* Desired outcomes

Anyone can take action toward a more inclusive society--socially and economically. People in government, in non-government organizations, community groups and social agencies can do something to promote social and economic inclusion. We hope that this tool will help you to work toward your goals.

The Inclusion Lens, in English and French, can be downloaded at