New Delhi: The inaugural International Inclusion Alliance Conference 2024, held at the prestigious Stein Auditorium, Indian Habitat Centre, on the 15th of February 2024 marked a historic moment in the global pursuit of inclusivity and diversity. Organized by Global DEI Specialist Shruti Swaroop and Dr. Neeraj A Sharma, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Palau to India and Co-Founder of IIA, the event brought together esteemed diplomats, corporate leaders, academicians, and advocates from around the world to engage in critical discussions and collaborative action.

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The presence of Chief Guest Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of State for Culture, added to the significance of the event. Her support underscored the government’s commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity on both national and international levels. Addressing the confluence she said, “International inclusion Alliance, such beautiful words and I was reflecting that at the heart of our mission as a country is inclusion. We strive to embrace everyone, leaving no one behind. In our pursuit, we recognise the myriad ways people can be marginalised – economically, politically, socially. Bridging these divides is paramount. At the recent G20 summit hosted by India, we amplified the voices of the marginalised through a Global South Summit, ensuring their concerns shape global policies. With our rich experience, India champions inclusion, lifting millions out of poverty, advancing healthcare, and sharing vaccines with the world. Inclusion isn’t just a concept, it’s our ethos, rooted in our Constitution and civilisation’s values. Together, let’s create a more inclusive, cooperative world and that is what the IIA conference is also about that inclusion within India can be a template internationally.”

Shruti Swaroop, hosted a panel discussion about Societal Inclusion with Panelists: Ms. Geeta L, Founder-President of Swayam Foundation,Filmmaker, Author and Scriptwriter, D.r Sabyasachi Saha, Associate Professor – RIS, Ms. Pooja O. Murada, Principal Lead, SM Sehgal Foundation, Ms. Manisha Gulati, Former Chairperson Punjab State Women’s Commission, Dr. Nirupama Prakash, Director of Amity institute of Social Sciences, Amity University – Noida.

Shruti Swaroop, Founder, Embrace Consulting and InclusiBuild, Co-founder of ERTZ and IIA expressed gratitude to all panelists for their contributions and emphasised the importance of sustained efforts in driving positive change. She said, “This is something very close to my heart, stemming from my personal experience where I never perceived differences based on gender or background. However, upon moving to the UK, I encountered division based on nationality. So we are often categorised by gender, nationality, education, appearance, and affiliations. Let’s discuss on the ways to dismantle these perceptions and use media platforms to promote societal inclusion and create a platform for people to speak and create that awareness. Let’s look at social inclusion with policies that are macro level that we can create that can play into a more inclusive society. I believe inclusion starts young and inclusion begins at home. Are we truly inclusive if we label individuals? We must challenge these societal norms. Whether at home or work, inclusivity should be consistent. Let’s reshape societal parameters and embrace diversity. The International Inclusion Alliance Conference 2024 has laid the foundation for continued collaboration and action towards a more inclusive world.”

His Excellency Dr. Neeraj A Sharma, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Palau to India and Co-Founder of IIA shared, “The International Inclusion Alliance champions a world where everyone, regardless of borders, enjoys social, gender, and financial equality. By fostering awareness and collaboration with global entities, we strive to cultivate inclusive environments and workspaces. At our inaugural conference, representatives from diverse nations, esteemed leaders, and government officials came together to share insights and perspectives on inclusion. We’re privileged to have had Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi ji grace our event and share her insights on inclusivity.”

His Excellency, H.E. Mr. David Pine, High Commissioner of New Zealand to India shard, “Inclusion is a vital road map for society. From village dialogues on sanitation to international finance complexities, communication is key. Hosting a distinguished Māori judge from New Zealand, the first indigenous judge on High Court in a long history, I learned that in disagreements, fair processes matter most. In a world of varied perspectives, striving for perfect justice is futile. We must continue having conversations on justice, ensuring that all voices are heard. Conferences like today signify progress, guiding us towards the right path of inclusivity and understanding. Congratulations to the organisers for this terrific. Let’s keep conversing, for inclusivity knows no bounds.”

Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and Honorary Consul Generals representing various countries shared unique insights and experiences on fostering inclusivity within their borders. Their contributions enriched the dialogue and provided valuable lessons for global cooperation. The conference served as a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration across borders.