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Inclusive governance: Why it matters

20 december 2019

Today, 20 December, is Human Solidarity Day. Solidarity signifies that we – humankind – are all in this together, so we must support and stand by each other in unity, particularly to support those who are most excluded.

Thus, inclusion is an essential element of solidarity. Inclusion is social: we must celebrate our diversity and embrace each other for the unique contributions we can all offer. Inclusion is international: the United Nations calls on national governments and the international community to join efforts in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which ambition for inclusive development, leaving no one behind, global cooperation toward eradicating poverty, and promoting peace and human rights.

And inclusion is local: sub-national and national governments and communities must be inclusive in decision-making in order to respond to the needs of those most excluded and take action toward addressing inequality and lifting people out of poverty. We believe that inclusive governance is the foundation of solidarity.

Restrictions on the ability to speak freely

Four out of five people worldwide live in a country where they face restrictions on their ability to speak freely. This ranges from restrictions on what can be published in the media to a full censoring of what people can say or not publicly about any topic. These restrictions undermine efforts toward inclusive development because the people most in need – the ones whose voices must be heard most clearly – are typically the voices most constrained or underrepresented.

How does it feel to be excluded?

“It feels as if you are not alive.” – woman in Burundi

“It is the worst feeling in the world.” – young man in DRC

Solidarity and inclusion: how?

So, how do we work toward solidarity and inclusion? When governments utilise inclusive processes to make decisions, no one is left behind. Inclusive governance means it is for the people, by the people. And governments benefit because service delivery becomes more efficient and effective. Inclusive governance builds a fairer world.

Inclusive governance: what does it mean?

To explore more about inclusive governance, we brought together seven experts and advocates on governance in some of the most difficult places in the world. They were asked to explore what inclusive governance means and share experiences with each other.


What did we learn? Well, a lot of projects end up abandoned if they are not initiated and implemented in an inclusive way. This is a poor use of already limited resources. Sometimes things like social norms get in the way; for example, social norms may limit accountability of public authorities or trigger women to self-discriminate. But exclusion is not always intentional: often public authorities need more information and tools to know which groups of people are not included and take action on how to reach them and respond to their needs. That’s why CARE uses innovative approaches like the Community Score Card to create spaces for dialogue that are inclusive.

Increased emphasis on solidarity could be a solution. After all, as said by a Swahili saying umoja ni nguvu: together we are strong.

Watch the full video to learn more: 


By Katie Whipkey, CARE Nederland

Many thanks to the experts in the video: Suhani Bhushan, Lori Cajegas, Alexis Kisubi, Gerald Kweri, Rodriguez Katsuva Mumbere, Aline Murekatete, and Ninon Ndayikengurukiye.

The video was funded by CARE Nederland’s Every Voice Counts programme through a grant by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.