Social and Economic Inclusion and Exclusion

Enabling participation in society

The term "social and economic exclusion" originated in France in the early 1970s in response to major economic restructuring and social transformation that disadvantaged specific parts of the population. While the idea of exclusion was initially equated with poverty, it soon expanded to include social as well economic disadvantage.

At the same time, the idea of inclusion was added to the concept, thereby focusing attention on the importance of fostering and enabling participation in society. Interest in social and economic inclusion and exclusion (SEI) spread throughout Europe and the United Kingdom through the 1980s and 1990s and emerged in Canada around 2000.

Initially, the concept of SEI did not include attention to sex or gender. Gradually, governments and organizations began to collect sex-disaggregated data and to develop gender mainstreaming tools.

The Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health (ACEWH) was able to contribute to the integration of sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) into SEI in Canada. With support from the Public Health Agency of Canada, ACEWH brokered relationships with researchers and community-based organizations in Atlantic Canada to consider the usefulness of the SEI concept for Canada.

Inclusion Lens tool

The result was an "Inclusion Lens", a tool designed to help policy makers, planners, and community-based organizations to apply the concepts of SEI, gender and diversity in their work. ACEWH also contributed to a series of position papers on SEI and to the development of a Cultural Competency Framework for health practitioners in Nova Scotia. ACEWH also undertook several research projects using SGBA and SEI, such as the Lone Mothers Project.