Policy instruments

Policy responses to social exclusion have ranged from legislative measures to tackle discrimination at a national level to civil society movements focused on ensuring a voice for the excluded.

Popay, J., Escorel, S., Hernández, M., Johnston, H, Mathieson, J, & Rispel, L. (2008). Tackling Exclusionary Processes. In Understanding and Tackling Social Exclusion (part 3). World Health Organisation.
What can be learned from existing policies and actions that aim to address social exclusion? This report section examines state-led policies, strategic initiatives for policy development and coordination, and the roles of civil society and the private sector. Donors need to develop ways of enabling universal systems of social protection and essential services (free at point of use) to be funded in low and middle income countries.
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Piron, L. H., & Curran, Z. (2005). Public Policy Responses to Exclusion: Evidence from Brazil, South Africa and India. London: Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
How have governments in Brazil, South Africa and India sought to address exclusion in those three societies? What lessons can be learnt from their experiences? This paper reviews recent research on policymakers’ responses to exclusion to evaluate the success of various strategies aimed at addressing inequality in developing countries. It argues that, while affirmative action and inclusive politico-legal frameworks contribute to anti-exclusion efforts, coordinated public policy and an equitable political economy are also necessary to ensure successful policy implementation.
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O’Neill, T., & Piron, L-H. (2003). Rights-Based Approaches to Tackling Discrimination and Horizontal Inequality. London: Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
How can discrimination and horizontal inequality be combated? Many societies exhibit strong horizontal inequality, meaning gaps in wellbeing between clearly defined groups (for example, along lines of gender or ethnicity). Frequently, a lack of respect for equal rights and difficulties in claiming entitlements are major factors underlying poverty, contributing to economic and social exclusion. This paper reviews the importance of human rights, the extent, nature and processes of discrimination and how far states combat it. It presents the potential contribution of rights-based approaches by governments, civil society and international donors to combating discrimination and inequalities.
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Stewart, F., Brown, G., & Langer, A. (2007). Policies towards Horizontal Inequalities (CRISE Working Paper No. 42). Oxford: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity
This paper reviews the range of policies which could contribute to alleviating the impact of horizontal inequalities on conflict likelihood and its recurrence. The relationship between objective HIs and conflict is complex and mediated by at least two intervening factors – the perceptions of HIs and the political salience of group identities. While there may need to be trade-offs with other policy objectives, there is no evidence that reducing HIs needs to reduce growth.
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UNDP. (2009). Envisioning Empowerment: A Portfolio of Initiatives for Achieving Inclusion and Development. United Nations Development Programme
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Donor approaches

There is a growing recognition amongst donors that social exclusion is a key obstacle to development. DFID’s 2005 policy paper on social exclusion emphasises that donors, governments and civil society can play an important role in reducing social exclusion. There is increasing understanding among donors of the need to embed sensitivity to social exclusion in all aspects of their programming, including social analysis, organisational and institutional analysis, planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting.

DFID. (2005). Reducing Poverty by Tackling Social Exclusion: A DFID Policy Paper. London: DFID.
Who is socially excluded and how is social exclusion (SE) related to poverty, conflict and insecurity? How can governments, civil society and donors reduce SE? This paper explores the causes, effects and solutions to SE worldwide. Governments, civil society and donors should tackle the challenges posed by SE. Not only for reasons of equality, but also to reduce poverty, improve the productive capacity of societies and reduce conflict and insecurity.
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Maier, C., Schulze, B., & Sprenger, S. (2008). Methodfinder Practitioner’s Guide: Social Inclusion. Kathmandu: German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Food Security and Rehabilitation Project.
How can social inclusion be embedded in development programmes? This handbook from GTZ suggests that social exclusion can best be addressed through integrated approaches and collaborations between different stakeholders to produce interventions at different levels. As a cross-cutting issue, inclusion requires awareness raising and a change of consciousness. It also requires a long-term strategic response.
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Cross-cutting processes

Social policies can enhance or moderate group consciousness and can exacerbate or reduce exclusion. Most states now have legislation to ban overt discrimination. In some countries, governments have introduced targeting through various forms of affirmative action.

Tackling social exclusion at a national level requires a concerted and long-term effort, which addresses issues of legal rights, political representation, economic resources, access to key services and attitudes and perceptions. Measures can range from implementing legal frameworks, which ensure the basic rights of all groups to access the institutions and resources of society, to affirmative action policies (within, for example, employment, education and political representation). Governments may even attempt to identify forms of exclusion at all levels of government action.  Governments must be careful, however, not to confuse inclusion with cultural assimilation; cultural inclusion should mean that excluded and minority group cultures are accorded space and respect by a country’s dominant national culture. In addition, policies must be designed with the specific context in mind, as those which are appropriate to one country may not necessarily fit in another.

Cultural and social psychological factors can also make discrimination particularly hard to eradicate. Challenges to discriminatory beliefs or processes threaten not only existing economic arrangements which benefit those who discriminate, but also their world-view and social identity.

Inclusive institutions

There is substantial evidence that social exclusion and inequality exacerbate poverty, a rapid review of evidence shows (Carter, 2014). Inclusive institutions are widely presented by international development agencies as a means to promote social inclusion and tackle inequality. Institutions are formal and informal rules and norms which structure the positions and interactions of individuals, groups and societies, including in families, communities, politics and economy. Inclusive institutions ‘bestow equal rights and entitlements, and enable equal opportunities, voice and access to resources and services’ (Carter, 2014: 8). They are typically based on universality, non-discrimination, or targeted action.

Institutions can have either positive or negative effects on inclusion and development outcomes (Carter, 2014). Power holders can shape institutions so that assets and resources are distributed in exclusionary ways. Institutions can enable discrimination through exclusion or adverse incorporation. Commonly, those most disadvantaged are women, people with disabilities, religious minorities, ‘lower castes’, ethnic minorities, and recent migrants. There are multiple entry points to strengthen inclusion in institutions.

Carter, B. (2014). Inclusive Institutions: Topic Guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
What does recent evidence show about inclusive institutions in low- and middle-income countries? This topic guide synthesises evidence about the key concepts, debates and development outcomes in relation to inclusive institutions (including their connection to social exclusion). It also identifies lessons for aid organisations to analyse institutions, use rights-based legal frameworks, tackle public sector workings, support voice, empowerment and accountability, and prevent harmful practices against women and girls. Cross-cutting lessons include a need to: analyse institutions through the lens of inclusion; understand power relations and incentives; understand social norms and behavioural change; work with existing institutions and local change; and work coherently and flexibly.
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Supporting inclusive institutions can also be connected to tackling state fragility. See:

Mcloughlin, C. (2012). Topic Guide on Fragile States (pp. 65-66, 84). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
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Anti-discrimination legislation

In some contexts, excluded groups can be subject to formal discrimination. In these situations constitutional provisions, laws, regulations and policies either explicitly further discriminatory practices, or fail to provide legal protection of, and redress for, the right to non-discrimination.

Tomasevski, K. (2005). Strengthening Pro-Poor Law: Legal Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights. Human Rights and Poverty Reduction Background Paper. London: ODI.
How can human rights legislation expose and oppose violations of economic and social rights? This paper looks at the key lessons that can be learnt from the relatively recent processes of human rights litigation worldwide. It explores the application of human rights legislation in case studies from all over the world. Importantly, the legal enforcement of human rights can support anti-poverty policies, since the poor are more victimised by violations of rights than the rich.
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Gallardo, G. R. (2004). Anti-Discrimination Legislation and Policies in Mexico. In Buvinic, M. et al., Social Inclusion and Economic Development in Latin America. Inter-American Development Bank
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Human rights

For a synthesis of evidence-based lessons on human rights in aid approaches, see the following GSDRC topic guide:

Chrichton, J., Haider, H., Chowns, E., & Browne, E. (2015). Human rights: Topic guide. Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
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Sherlaw, W., & Hudebine, H. (2015). The United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities: Opportunities and tensions within the social inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities. ALTER – European Journal of Disability Research / Revue Européenne de Recherche Sur Le Handicap, 9(1), 9–21.
How can the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) support social inclusion? Drawing from academic literature on disability, this article argues that the Convention can advance inclusive policies for PWDs and serve as a benchmark for policy evaluation. However, different organisations may have contradictory goals and diverging emphasis on redistribution versus recognition. It is important to both find commonalities and allow for diverse approaches, where all participants have equal voice. PWDs, especially those who are hard to reach, must be the ones to set priorities for policy, evaluation and choices for action. Participatory action research can inform this.
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Affirmative action

Affirmative action has taken various forms, which include providing preferred admissions and subsidies for education and employment and providing mandatory political representation for marginalised groups. These programmes have had some success, notably in terms of increasing minority group representation in government employment. However, in India, for example, these policies have not had a significant impact on the poverty of these groups relative to the rest of Indian society. In addition these policies have sometimes been implemented in a context of profound social resistance, and there has been a failure to transform the attitudes and perceptions of the majority of the population.  While efforts to increase the political representation of minority groups have had some limited success in altering the priorities of local government, social and cultural norms continue to present a significant barrier to greater equality for excluded groups.  Efforts to foster empowerment and inclusion via affirmative action tend to focus on developing legislation and institutions.  There should be greater focus on implementation and creating an enabling environment for change that addresses deeper power relations.

Heyer, J., & Jayal, N. G. (2009). Challenge of Positive Discrimination in India. Oxford: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity.
Despite mixed results, India’s positive discrimination (PD) programme ensures a minimum level of inclusiveness for disadvantaged groups and keeps discrimination issues in public view. This paper reviews achievements, political and economic outcomes and challenges of the PD programme. Despite its achievements, the PD programme is insufficient: disadvantaged groups need to build stronger political movements in order to demand more from the majority.
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Dos Santos, S. A. (2006). Who is Black in Brazil? A Timely or a False Question in Brazilian Race Relations in the Era of Affirmative Action? Latin American Perspectives, 33(4), 30-48.
Who is black in Brazil? This article examines racial discrimination in Brazil. It argues that Brazil’s myth of racial democracy limits realistic discussion of racism and racial identity because it prevents the identification of dysfunctional race relations. The important question with regard to affirmative action is not who is black, but rather what sort of society do Brazilians want to build.
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Corwall, A., & Edwards, J. (2010). Introduction: Negotiating Empowerment. IDS Bulletin, 41(2), 1-9.
Why are conventional interventions that seek to promote women’s empowerment insufficient? This article highlights the choices, negotiations, narratives, and context of women’s lived experience. It finds that empowerment is a complex process of negotiation rather than a linear sequence of inputs and outcomes. Governments and development agencies need to give more consideration to the structures perpetuating gender inequality. They should invest in creating an enabling environment for women’s empowerment, and should support those who are tackling deeply rooted issues of power impeding transformative change.
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Tadros, M. (2010). Introduction: Quotas – Add Women and Stir? IDS Bulletin, 41(5), 1-10.
Is women’s empowerment directly related to the proportion of women in parliament? Have various forms of quota been successful in transforming gender relations? This article examines different pathways to women’s empowerment and the assumptions about gender, power, and politics that underlie quotas. It concludes that the focus on women’s representation in parliament is too narrow; gender hierarchies that have remained unchallenged in other key power bases (such as key ministries) must be identified and targeted. Further, women’s representation must be viewed in terms of the agendas pursued and their influence.
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Voice, empowerment and accountability

There are various strategies aimed at enhancing citizens’ voice and empowerment and increasing the accountability of power-holders. For example, in formal politics, these include increasing electoral turnout, informing decision-makers of citizens’ views and bringing citizens and decision-makers together in dialogue on policy issues.

Underlying these strategies is the notion that the creation of new spaces for public participation will enable more direct forms of citizen engagement in policy making.  However, simply creating new spaces for participation does not guarantee greater inclusion or enable the most marginalised sections of the population to articulate their voices and demand accountability. The outcomes of participatory approaches are affected by power relations, which can result in inequality. Even within social movements that aim to benefit the poor, uneven power relations can be replicated at the local level, resulting in the exclusion of the most marginalised. These power relations needs to be understood in relation to how spaces of engagement are created, the levels of power within them and the different forms of power across them. It is also essential to consider who participates, on what basis and whose interests they represent.

For a synthesis of evidence-based lessons on voice, empowerment and accountability, see the following GSDRC topic guide:

Combaz, E., & Mcloughlin, C., (2014). Voice, empowerment and accountability: Topic guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
Evidence on the impact of interventions for voice, empowerment and accountability is limited, and identifies both positive and negative effects. Impact depends on ‘power relations, social norms, levels of equity or exclusion, leadership, and the capacity and will of both state and civil society actors’ (p. 1). Supporting women’s political inclusion requires understanding women’s networks and their own capacity to empower themselves. Overall, more strategic, long-term interventions that tackle blockages within both state and society may be useful. Aid actors need to think and work politically, adapt to local incentives and power dynamics, and be realistic about possibilities. They could adopt an enabling and brokering role. In some fragile and conflict-affected contexts, a non-confrontational emphasis on all parties’ collective responsibility to support development has achieved positive results.
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Cornwall, A., & Coelho, V. S. (Eds.). Spaces for Change? The Politics of Participation in New Democratic Arenas. London: Zed Books.
How can participation offer real prospects for change in the status quo for historically marginalised social groups? This introductory chapter brings together case studies that examine the democratic potential of a diversity of participatory sphere institutions. A gap remains between the legal and technical apparatus that has been created to institutionalise participation and the reality of the effective exclusion of poorer and more marginalised citizens.
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Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. (2011). Blurring the Boundaries: Citizen Action across States and Societies. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
This report synthesises the findings of ten years of research from the Development Resource Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. Findings suggest that governments often become more capable, accountable and responsive when state-led reform to strengthen institutions of accountability and social mobilisation occur simultaneously. Further, change happens not just through strategies that work on both sides of the governance supply and demand equation, but also through strategies that work across them: it is important to link champions of change from both state and society.
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Narayana, D. (2005). Institutional Change and its Impact on the Poor and Excluded: The Indian Decentralisation Experience. Paris/Geneva: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and International Labour Office.
Does democratic decentralisation improve the ability of the previously socially excluded to participate in local governance? This study examines newly created local governance institutions in three states in India. It finds significant variation in the outcomes of decentralisation on participation across states and between different groups. The success of institutional reforms in increasing participation is influenced by how well their designs fit the local context, the extent to which power and resources are actually devolved to local institutions, and the degree of local political mobilisation.
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Castillejo, C. (2009). Strengthening Women’s Citizenship in the Context of State Building. Madrid: Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE).
How can state-building strengthen women’s citizenship in fragile states? This seminar report explores the opportunities offered by state building processes to enhance women’s political participation, rights and ability to hold the state to account. State building strategies must: include strengthening women’s citizenship as an explicit aim; engage with the informal institutions that have most influence over women’s lives; address economic and social barriers to women’s substantive citizenship; and support the participation of women’s organisations.
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Haider, H. (2008). Participation of Excluded Groups in Local Governance (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
There are various methods of ensuring and allowing the participation of excluded groups in local governance. They fall under two broad categories: 1) promoting the representation of excluded groups in local government, including in leadership positions, and 2) promoting the participation of excluded groups in local meetings to discuss planning, budgeting and development projects. Within these categories, a range of formal and informal mechanisms and strategies have been attempted in various countries. This helpdesk research report focuses on examples from India, Uganda, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
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Further resources on participation are available in other GSDRC guides:

Inclusion for specific excluded groups

For syntheses of evidence-based lessons on gender, social exclusion and aid, see the following GSDRC topic guide:

Kangas, A., Haider, H., & Fraser, E. (2014). Gender: Topic Guide (Revised edition with E. Browne). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
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See in particular the section on donor approaches

Simplican, S. C., Leader, G., Kosciulek, J., & Leahy, M. (2015). Defining Social Inclusion of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: An Ecological Model of Social Networks and Community Participation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 38, 18–29.
What does social inclusion mean for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (PWIDDs), their families and service providers? What are the policy implications? Drawing from academic literature, this theoretical article presents an ecological model of social inclusion for PWIDDs, which brings together individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, and socio-political factors. The authors show how this model can shed light on the enabling conditions for systemic social inclusion, and on the role of self-advocacy organisations. It can also inform social inclusion for PWIDDs living with their families, and for people along a broader spectrum of disability.
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Violent conflict and peacebuilding

The following GSDRC topic guides synthesise recent evidence and practical lessons for aid practitioners on preventing and responding to violent conflicts, and building peace. The approaches presented take into account social exclusion:

Haider, H. (2014). Conflict: Topic Guide (Revised edition with B. Rohwerder). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham, chapters 3-5.

Haider, H. (2014). Statebuilding and Peacebuilding in Situations of Conflict and Fragility (Topic Guide Supplement, Revised edition with A. Strachan). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.

Haider, H. (2011). State-Society Relations and Citizenship in Situations of Conflict and Fragility (Topic Guide Supplement). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.

Haider, H. (2014). Conflict Sensitivity: Topic Guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.

Strachan, A. L., & Haider, H. (2015). Gender and Conflict: Topic Guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.

Sectoral issues

There is increasing recognition that inclusive growth, universal service provision and social protection initiatives can alleviate the negative effects of exclusion on certain groups over the long term. For example, education has been found to have positive effects on income, and it is argued that reducing the gap in years of schooling could reduce inter-ethnic inequality in a significant way.

Inclusive growth

The 2009 DFID White Paper ‘Building Our Common Future’ emphasises the importance of inclusive growth for sustainable poverty reduction. The World Bank defines inclusive growth as being about ‘raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy, while levelling the playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities.’ Thus, inclusive growth includes the idea of equality of opportunity in terms of access to markets, resources and productive employment, as well as an unbiased regulatory framework for businesses and individuals.

Inclusive growth can thus be both an outcome and a process. On the one hand, it ensures that everyone participates in the growth process, both in terms of decision-making on the growth progression itself, as well as in participating in the growth itself. On the other hand, it makes sure that everyone equitably shares the benefits of growth.

Alexander, K. (2015). Inclusive growth: Topic guide. Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
What does recent evidence show about inclusive growth? This topic guide, commissioned by DFID, synthesises evidence about the key concepts of inclusive growth, its components and measurements, and the linkages between growth, poverty and inequality. It finds that three strands of policies must be combined: economic growth that generates structural transformation and productive employment for poor people; equal opportunities, including equal access to jobs; and social protection for the most vulnerable, complemented by investments in human development that support social inclusion. Governments must also widen their tax base, to spend on inclusive growth sustainably.
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Ali, I., & Zhuang, J. (2007). Inclusive Growth Toward a Prosperous Asia: Policy Implications. Manila: Asian Development Bank (ADB).
How can a development strategy based on inclusive growth help developing Asia eradicate extreme poverty and tackle inequality? This paper argues that inclusive growth emphasises creation of, and equal access to opportunities; and that unequal opportunities arise from social exclusion associated with market, institutional, and policy failures. Thus, the ADB should modify its vision, mission and operational priorities to make inclusive growth its overarching goal.
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Hatlebakk, M. (2008). Inclusive Growth in Nepal. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.
How can inclusive growth be promoted in Nepal? This paper examines pathways out of poverty in Nepal between 1995 and 2003 and proposes ways in which the government, non-governmental organisations and international donors can help foster future inclusive growth. Targeted education and training schemes for the poor and for excluded groups, subsidised health care and investment in infrastructure are key areas of intervention.
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Scott, Z, (2009). Gender and Growth in China (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
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The first half of this helpdesk research report provides case studies examining the links between economic growth and gender equality in China. Most resources focus on the economic reforms associated with WTO accession and examine their gendered impacts. They all find that China’s impressive economic growth has failed to benefit men and women proportionately. Several authors argue that growth has actually increased inequality, or has created new gender inequalities. Women now generally occupy lower paid and lower status jobs than men. The second half of this report highlights resources on growth and gender in other countries, predominantly in Sub-Saharan Africa, this time focussing on the impact of gender inequality on growth. The resources on Africa offer more of a consensus in arguing that gender inequality has a negative effect on growth. The following are identified as particular barriers to African women fully participating in economic activity:

  • high fertility rates
  • gender gaps in education
  • lack of access to formal employment
  • gender gaps in access to assets and inputs in agriculture.

Littlewood, D., & Holt, D. (2014). Addressing Rural Social Exclusion in the Developing World: Exploring the Role of African Social Purpose Ventures. In Henry, C., & Mcelwee, G. (Eds.), Exploring Rural Enterprise: New Perspectives on Research, Policy & Practice (pp. 105–131). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
What role can social entrepreneurship and innovation play in tackling social exclusion among the poor? This book chapter offers eight qualitative case studies from Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia. The research shows that social purpose ventures can partner with the rural poor as: employees; consumers; producers; entrepreneurs; service users (where ventures contribute to service provision); and shareholders. Successful ventures have integrated environmental sustainability, participation by the poor, and local capacities and embeddedness. They have also had sound business fundamentals and strategies – typically, an outward orientation, linkages with larger businesses, and the goal of self-sufficiency. Better policies, laws and support could help such ventures contribute to inclusive rural development.
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Service provision

Excluded groups often lack access to services entirely and or only have access to lower-quality services. This can limit their capacity to benefit from opportunities available to other members of society. Access to education is a particularly important service because of its effect on the earning capacity of an individual, as well as on his/her ability to participate in their social and political environment.  Early intervention in the field of education can play a critical role in reducing inequalities, but relies upon strong policy engagement, strategic planning and investment.

Institutional factors are extremely important in determining equitable access to services. These factors include the processes by which decisions are made on the allocation of resources, the incentives given to service providers to serve specific groups, and the ability of different groups of users to demand specific services. Depending on these factors, institutions (both formal and informal) can be inclusive – in that they promote the participation of the weak – or they can be exclusionary.

For a synthesis of recent evidence on service delivery and its practical implications for aid, including for social exclusion, see the following GSDRC topic guide:

Mcloughlin, C., & Scott, Z. (2014). Service Delivery: Topic Guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
Evidence shows that ‘equitable access to essential public services is vital for human development, inclusive growth, and tackling persistent inequality’ (p. 2). Key factors that can enable or impede inclusive delivery are political and institutional. Evidence remains patchy and mixed on the impact of common interventions to ensure inclusive service delivery (e.g. informing users about their rights, involving them in decision-making, strengthening accountability, decentralisation, or vouchers). Whilst there are many challenges, there are documented success stories for aid, including in very difficult environments. Lessons include the usefulness of engaging communities on social norms around access, understanding incentives, providing flexible and adaptable aid, and building trust between different actors.
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The resources below outline various projects aimed at increasing excluded groups’ access to services, and highlight best practice and lessons learned.

Gardener, J., & Subrahmanian, R. (2006). Tackling Social Exclusion in Health and Education: Case Studies from South Asia. London: DFID.
In many Asian countries, poverty reduction is undermined by inequality and insecurity. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in these countries requires effort from governments and development agencies to help excluded groups access health and education services. This paper from GHK International and the Institute of Development Studies uses examples from across Asia to identify ways of tackling social exclusion. Case studies from India, Nepal and Bangladesh show how ethnic minorities, disadvantaged castes, the ultra-poor, women and migrants are excluded from education and health provision. Projects across Asia have sought to understand processes of exclusion and find ways of including these groups.
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Moreno-Torres, M. (2005). Service Delivery in a Difficult Environment: the Child-friendly Community Initiative in Sudan. London: DFID.
The UNICEF-sponsored Child-Friendly Community Initiative (CFCI) represents an integrated, multi-sectoral and community-driven approach for the delivery of basic services to poor and vulnerable people in Sudan. What are the main achievements of CFCI? How does it differ from other donor interventions aiming to enhance service delivery? This case study examines the effectiveness of the CFCI approach in Sudan and attempts to draw lessons for donors on service delivery in other fragile states.
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Save the Children. (2008). Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen. London: Save the Children UK.
What can NGOs do to promote inclusiveness in the school systems of developing countries? This book uses the experience of Save the Children UK and its partners to identify what changes are needed for school systems to become inclusive of all children, and how these can be leveraged. The experience of national education teams working for Save the Children provides insight into the approaches that have worked best.
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Carneiro, P. M., Galasso, E., & Ginja, R. (2014). Tackling social exclusion: evidence from Chile (Discussion Paper No. 8209). Institute for the Study of Labor / IZA.
In Chile, an innovative welfare programme has provided the 5 per cent of poorest households with frequent home visits and guaranteed access to social services. A statistical analysis on the 2002-2006 period shows it made a strong and lasting impact: participants’ take-up of family allowances for children was 11 per cent higher than in comparable households, and use of employment services 5-6 per cent higher. However, employment outcomes or housing conditions did not improve. In addition, impact was important only for families who had little access to welfare before (30 percentage point increase in take-up of the child allowance for those families).
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Samuels, F., James, V., & Sylvester K. (2009). Beyond Basic Needs: Programming for Marginalised and Vulnerable Groups – The Australian Partnerships with African Communities (APAC) Programme. London: Overseas Development Institute
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Woodhead, M., Ames, P., Vennam, U., Abebe, W., & Streuli, N. (2009). Equity and Quality? Challenges for Early Childhood and Primary Education in Ethiopia, India and Peru (Working Paper 55).The Hague: Studies in Early Childhood Transitions, Bernard van Leer Foundation
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The following paper highlights the disparities between men and women in their access to agricultural resources (such as land, technology and equipment, credit, and markets), and explores intervention strategies needed to address the constraints in accessing such resources.

Quisumbing, A., & Pandolfelli, L. (2009). Promising Approaches to Address the Needs of Poor Female Farmers. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.
What are the key strategies for closing the gender gap in agricultural production? This paper reviews attempts to increase poor female farmers’ access to, and control of, productive resources in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Consideration of the literature of the past decade indicates that while promising new approaches to meeting the needs of female farmers are emerging, few have been rigorously evaluated. Future interventions need to consider, among other factors: interactions among resource inputs; the trade-offs between practical and strategic gender needs; and the culture and context specificity of gender roles.
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Further resources on service delivery and equity of access are available in the Service Delivery guide

Social protection

Social assistance has come to be seen as an important tool for reducing poverty and social exclusion. In developing countries, new social assistance programmes aim to invest in the productivity and resilience of poor and vulnerable households with children, particularly those left outside of traditional social insurance assistance programmes. For example, governments in a number of Latin American middle-income states have adopted conditional cash transfers to encourage poor families to send their children to school, and ensure that they access healthcare services. These programmes aim to reduce vulnerability in the short term and, in the long term, to contribute to disrupting the intergenerational cycle of poverty by enabling children to become full and productive members of society.

However, many social protection programmes have not been in existence long enough to enable evaluation of their success in achieving long-term poverty alleviation goals. The few evaluations that have taken place have highlighted the limited scope of many of these programmes, and the potential for badly-designed programmes to reinforce rather than overcome societal divisions.  As a result, there remains some debate about the potential contribution of social protection to addressing social exclusion.

Browne, E. (2015). Social protection: Topic guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
The evidence base on the relationship between social protection and social exclusion is small (pp. 27-28). Some studies identify positive effects from social protection, such as improving human development, livelihoods, legal rights, and access to services. But interventions have generally not been transformative, and have had less success working for the most excluded. Options to address this diverge, from removing costs to access, to making trade-offs between coverage and cost-effectiveness. Further, many studies recommend tailoring social protection to the needs and experiences of people who are most excluded. This includes women and girls, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who are hard to reach due to migration, extreme poverty, informal work or self-employment (pp. 30-33).
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Babajanian, B., & Hagen-Zanker, J. (2012). Social protection and social exclusion: an analytical framework to assess the links (Background Note). London: ODI.
How can social protection address the outcomes and drivers of social exclusion in low- and middle-income countries? This paper draws on different strands of literature and examples to construct a framework. Social protection can address life course vulnerabilities (e.g. parenting, disability, illness, old age) through legal rights, income security, and services. Minimum labour rights and affirmative action can institute and enforce citizenship rights and entitlements. Access to education, skills and healthcare can be improved through cash transfers, affordable services, and inclusive and equitable policies. Livelihoods support on agricultural assets inputs and social cash transfers can enhance people’s productive capacity.
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Carroll, K. (2011). Addressing Inequality: Framing Social Protection in National Development Strategies. IDS Bulletin, 42(6), 89-95.
How can social protection reduce inequalities? This paper suggests that social protection should be integrated in a coherent national development strategy (NDS), which provides a framework for policy formulation and linkages. Policies should be rooted in solid analysis to enable them to target specific inequalities. ActionAid’s NDS project is provided as an example of how to advance redistributive and transformative social protection.
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De la Briere, B. & Rawlings L. B. (2006). Examining Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes: A Role for Increased Social Inclusion? (SP Discussion Paper no. 0603). Washington, DC: World Bank.
Conditional Cash Transfer programmes (CCTs) provide money to poor families, contingent on specific verifiable actions such as children’s school attendance or preventative health care. How successful are CCTs in addressing social inclusion and inter-generational poverty? What is their impact on social accountability relationships between beneficiaries, service providers and governments? This summary focuses on the Social Inclusion section in a World Bank paper. While CCTs hold promise, they are not a panacea against social exclusion. They should form part of comprehensive social and economic policy strategies and be applied carefully in different policy contexts.
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Olivier, M. (2011). Political and Regulatory Dimensions of Access, Portability and Exclusion: Social Security for Migrants, with an Emphasis on Migrants in Southern Africa. In Sabates-Wheeler, R., & Feldman, R. Migration and Social Protection: Claiming social rights beyond borders (pp. 117-139). Palgrave Macmillan.
How can southern African SADC countries best provide social protection to migrants within the region? Using a qualitative analysis of policies and laws, this chapter shows how states have effectively used limitations in social security laws and regulations about migrants to restrict migrants’ access to, and portability of, entitlements. This has particularly affected asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. The author recommends using a rights-based and regulatory approach to align international, regional, constitutional, statutory and judicial norms. States must also base their immigration policies on rights, put an end to anti-migrant hostility, and adopt bilateral and multilateral social security agreements.
An adapted 2012 version of this chapter, by M. Olivier and O. Dupper, is available online

Parmar, D., Williams, G., Dkhimi, F., Ndiaye, A., Asante, F. A., Arhinful, D. K., & Mladovsky, P. (2014). Enrolment of Older People in Social Health Protection Programs in West Africa – Does Social Exclusion Play a Part? Social Science & Medicine, 119, 36–44.
What are the effects of social exclusion on social protection for older people in the health sector? The authors of this study conducted cross-sectional household surveys in Senegal and Ghana, and analysed the data statistically. They found that addressing financial barriers is not enough: older persons’ vulnerabilities to sociocultural, political and economic exclusion reduce enrolment levels. The authors recommend special efforts to enrol the elderly in rural areas, ethnic minorities, women, and those who are isolated due to a lack of social support. They also recommend eliminating registration fees and providing identification documents in remote communities.
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Kabeer, N., Mumtaz, K., & Sayeed, A. (2010). Beyond Risk Management: Vulnerability, Social Protection and Citizenship in Pakistan. Journal of International Development, 22, 1-19
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The paper below highlights rights-based approaches to social protection. According to this conceptualisation, citizenship gives all people the right to a minimum income, and access to enough resources to allow them to live their lives in dignity. Therefore, it argues, the role of social protection is not to provide relief, but redistribution. Given that poverty and inequality result partly from lack of access to secure and adequately-paid employment, it becomes the responsibility of the state to alleviate the social consequences of market failures by providing social services, and thus to ensure the right to inclusion.

CIARIS Learning and Resources Centre on Social Inclusion. (n.d). Social Assistance as an Instrument of Social Inclusion: Practices and Policy Choices. International Labour Organization.
This paper outlines the growing importance of social assistance, and reviews its place within wider social protection, labour and poverty reduction strategies. Social assistance is not a panacea against social exclusion; its limitations should be recognised and addressed through links with more comprehensive social and labour market policies.
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Social assistance schemes such as pensions can, if designed correctly, be effective in addressing the exclusion of older people.

Cristina, M., & da Coneicao, G. (2002). Households and Income: Ageing and Gender Inequalities in Urban Brazil and Colombia. Journal of Developing Societies, 18(2-3), 149-168.
This paper discusses the ageing process in Brazil and Colombia according to gender and socioeconomic inequalities. The ageing process is related to reforms in social policies in each country. Reforms in the pension systems show contrasting results for the family structure and income. In Brazil, the extension of pensions to rural and informal workers leads to empowering poorer elderly women and men in economic and domestic relationships. Universalising pensions allows the elderly to choose to live alone or to support adult children. On the other hand, in Colombia the reform created the individual saving system, reinforcing social exclusion and inequalities at the end of the life course. At the same time, the structural adjustments of the economy have generated new social contracts and economic order, but in different ways. The universal or individual character of the new pension system redefines in each country the profile of gender, generations, and socioeconomic inequalities. The universal reform can mitigate the economic and domestic exclusion of poorer and rural elderly people, as in Brazil; and the individual reform can reinforce inequalities and, as a result, reproduce gender roles of domestic submission and dependence for poorer elderly women.
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Further resources on social protection and preventing exclusion are available in the Social Protection guide

Information and communication technologies (ICTs)

ICTs have the potential to foster either inclusion or exclusion. Around the world, exclusion from ICTs has been widely shown to stem from structural socio-economic inequalities, and to reinforce them if no action is taken. ICTs can generate different dynamics, depending on the characteristics of a technology, but also on the resources people need to access and use them, and on public and private policies. Inclusive policies can help remove barriers and encourage access. They can enable impact that is meaningful for users and contributes to inclusion. Analyses of experiences in Turkey and Venezuela, below, reveal a persistence of inequalities and policy gaps, but also identify promising policy options.

Polat, R. K. (2012). Digital exclusion in Turkey: A policy perspective. Government Information Quarterly, 29(4), 589–596.
This mixed-method article shows that digital disparities are closely connected to other social inequalities in Turkey. State policies on ICTs have allocated large budgets to solutions centred on technology. This has failed, quantitatively and qualitatively, in including those who are female, elderly, Kurdish, less educated, disabled, or in rural areas. The author notes that Turkey could leapfrog towards inclusion by simultaneously improving both access, and literacy and skills (in ICTs, basic education and English). Simple measures would include free or cheaper Internet access and building on mobiles use, though structural inequalities would need to be tackled too.
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Mercado, A. (2012). Social inclusion or social illusion: The challenges of social inclusion, social participation and social cohesion in Venezuelan S&T policy. Science and Public Policy, 39(5), 592–601.
This qualitative and quantitative review examines participatory policies and programmes on science and technology in Venezuela between 1999 and 2011. It finds that successes included popular input into decision-making, and participants’ autonomous role in design and implementation in some programmes. Success stemmed from widespread support for, and trust in, governmental responsiveness, and from high oil prices (funds enabled activities to work with broad participation and different forms of knowledge). However, the overall results were low-quality policies and frustration. This was caused by low institutional capacities and political conflict. In response, the government used more centralisation and vertical mechanisms, thus weakening local management capacities and community empowerment.
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