Panel: Marcelle Bugre (Foundation for Shelter and Support for Migrants), Sean Ellul (KNZ), Julia Portanier (KSU)
Moderator: Daniel Benson Camilleri
Highlights of the debate
• Self-representation and self-advocacy are crucial for the fight against exclusion of minority groups in society.
• In light of this, creating spaces and platforms where vulnerable individuals can feel safe to make their voice heard, is an important step.
• This promotes peer education and provides a clearer picture of the daily struggles that minorities deal with.
• It also helps bring change to the barrier-filled environment that we live in, where people are emarginated or excluded due to many different reasons, including physical or mental disabilities, incarceration, sexual identity, gender, skin colour or status.
• An inclusive society depends on education and empathy, thus educators and policy-makers must give priority to instilling a feeling of empathy and creating educational platforms that slowly but surely blur the lines in people’s mentality, leading to discrimination and exclusion.
• It cannot be denied that it is part of human nature to disagree and develop conflicting ideas.
• Thus, the aim should not be that of not having conflict at all, but rather, learning how to manage it and eventually diffuse it without reverting to violence.
• This is highly subjective and it largely varies depending on the situation and the people engaging in conflict.
• However, 2 buzzwords that are essential in any scenario are compromise and understanding.
Inclusion is a sensitive topic that hovers over many societal groups and poses difficulties when tackling the lack thereof, and attempting to find effective solutions to the problem of exclusion and margination. All the speakers tackle issues of exclusion within the communities they work in, namely that of immigrants and refugees, students and youth. They agree that it is fundamental that this topic is approached with an open-mind in order to understand the roots of the issue and subsequently pin-point how to diminish its presence. The speakers highlighted that self-representation and self-advocacy are two concepts that put the ball in the vulnerable individuals’ court and give them the opportunity to speak up and share their struggles. This surely promotes peer education, where people in similar situations can talk, learn from each other and eventually lean on each other. It also raises awareness and helps bring down barriers that cause discrimination and excludes people for various reasons, including physical or mental disabilities, incarceration, sexual identity, gender, skin colour or status. An important point that came up was that education and empathy are fundamental for inclusion. Thus, educators must give importance to instilling empathy towards others, whatever their background may be.
With regards to conflict, it cannot be denied that it is part of human nature to disagree and develop contradictory ideas. The debate shed light on the fact that the focus should not be on eliminating conflict altogether but rather, learning how to manage it and eventually diffuse it without reverting to violence. This finds basis in the concept of compromise and the ability to put your feet in someone else’s shoes.