According to the United Nations“Social inclusion is defined as the process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights.” 

To understand social inclusion, it is important to note that “exclusion occurs because certain groups are systematically disadvantaged and/ or discriminated against on the basis of their identity: ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, caste, descent, gender, age, disability, HIV status, migrant status or where they live. Therefore, exclusion can occur linked to multiple dimensions of one person’s identity.“ (shareweb.ch)

Therefore, it is clear that people can be present in a community without being socially included. Being socially included means that a number of things are present in people’s lives. Social inclusion means that people:

  • Experience a sense of belonging
  • Are accepted (for who they are) within their communities
  • Have valued roles in the community
  • Are actively participating within their communities
  • Are involved in activities based on their personal preferences
  • Have social relationships with others whom they chose and share common interests
  • Have friends

When people experience some or all of these conditions in their life they are more likely to be happier and healthier. In fact, social inclusion is an important “determinant of health” – without inclusion, people are more likely to experience poor health (including poor mental health), loneliness, isolation, and poor self-esteem.