The Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) exists to deepen democracy and to develop a robust, inclusive society in India by enhancing the involvement of communities that are excluded. CSEI formed in 2009, growing out of three decades of volunteers working on rights-based development with a focus on community organizing, networking, research, and forming campaigns. Today, working with young people from socially excluded communities has emerged as a priority for CSEI in their work toward a just and inclusive society in India.
It is estimated that India has the highest youth population in the world with 356 million people between the ages of 10-24 years old. Of this population, more than half of these young people belong to the Dalit, Tribal, Muslim or other marginalized communities. Because of this, they face specific disadvantages for their personal development, as well as for their participation in the wider society.
CSEI evolved four distinct pillars, or emphases, to guide their work with marginalized young people.
- Leadership and life-skills building
- Career and livelihood promotion
- New social enterprises
- Empowering inclusive communities
Today, CSEI empowers community led organizations (CLOs) in over 50 Dalit, Tribal, and Muslim communities located in the six states of Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chattisgarh. Through programming for young people, CSEI is working to provide personal leadership and life-skills development as well as to develop their community engagement. One CSEI program, Youth Hubs, provides facilitated and safe spaces for young girls and boys to exchange ideas and plan community actions.
A second youth program is the Leadership-building training courses. These courses provide opportunities for teens and young adults to engage in peace-building activities, learn about internships, and exposure programs directed for their personality and strengths. Through CSEI, young people have the opportunity to participate in many different community action programs where they can share new information, access state provisions, ensure children have opportunities to attend school, raise community issues, and address human rights violations. Constitutional knowledge, human rights awareness, and gender sensitivity are common topics addressed in training materials as well as through peer education. CSEI also facilitates the connection between individuals and other human rights forums and networks – such as those working specifically with Dalit rights, right to education, forest rights, right to information, gender rights, and UN Sustainable Development Goals forums at the state and national levels. In addition, the youth have built a forum of their own called the National Youth Equity Forum (NYEF), as well as newly formed state forums.
In order to help young people from marginalized communities navigate higher education and find college mentors, CSEI has created the Higher Education Link Program (HELP). CSEI provides teens interested in higher education with short-term and long-term fellowship opportunities ranging between six months and two years in order to pursue higher education degrees and career opportunities. One component of the fellowship program is that individuals actively participate in developing their own communities. Global Ministries continues to welcome gifts for the work of the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion for their work to empower youth from socially excluded communities.