John West-Burnham

Educational Leadership Development

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Leadership for Diversity: securing equity, inclusion and social justice.

Inequality is the antithesis of social justice. In this particular usage of the idea of justice in its usual and specific focus, equality before the lawis extended to all aspects of life in society. Thus the focus is on the concept of a just society in which there is parity in terms of social, political and economic matters as well as legal equality. The basic principle of the rule of law is applied to all aspects of being human.

. . . there is the problem of doing justice to people with physical and mental impairments. These people are people, but they have not as yet been included, in existing societies, as citizens on a basis of equality with other citizens. The problem of extending education, health care, political rights and liberties, and equal citizenship more generally to such people seems to be a problem of justice, and an urgent one. (Nussbaum 2006p2)

Inclusion and equity are not just about kindness or fairness, they are concerned with the fundamental manifestations of human rights, justice and the experience of living in a democratic society based on the rule of law.However, we know that it is now possible to overcome the social and economic lottery of birth by creating a just society in which children grow and develop. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC):

. . . gives children rights to, inter alia, freedom of expression, association, thought, conscience and religion, protection against abuse and violence, enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, education, rest and leisure, protection from economic exploitation and hazardous work

The CRC is important in the following respect. It represents children as the subject of rights. Children are recognised in a major international covenant as moral and legal subjects possessed of fundamental entitlements. (Archard 2004 p54)

This article argues that social justice is an essential component of a democratic society and is only possible with unconditional respect for diversity and strategies for inclusion. However in many developed societies social inequality and injustice remain significant social forces. According to Dorling (2010 P2) the beliefs that sustain injustice in modern societies can be summarised as:

. . . elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable. Each belief also creates a distinct set of victims – the delinquents, the debarred, the discarded, the debtors and the depressed.

The purpose of leadership for diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice is to work to minimise and eradicate the negative aspects of society in children’s lives. Modern societies tend to be increasingly heterogeneous and there is a direct correlation between equal and inclusive societies and children’s well-being.


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