Socially inclusive cities


Primary investigator: Ghazala Mir


About us

Network overview







About us

Socially Inclusive Cities brings together partners from the UK, Africa and Asia to explore how research can help promote ethnic and religious equality for excluded communities worldwide.

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We have:

  • Conducted national and global reviews of evidence regarding drivers of ethnic and religious disadvantage and practical solutions to exclusion to inform future policy and practice;
  • Identified evidence-based inclusion strategies for a range of public services: health, education, local government and the police; 
  • Developed a transformational future research agenda to fill gaps in current research evidence. The agenda  identifies key challenges, priorities and reference points that cross-disciplinary research and research funders can play a role in addressing;
  • Highlighted creative research designs that orientate to social justice, drawing on cross-sector concepts, theory and methods;
  • Identified useful mechanisms for collaboration across the research life cycle.

There is increasing awareness that across the world some groups in society are being excluded from opportunities while other groups enjoy unfair advantages. The Socially Inclusive Cites Network was established to focus on how research might help reduce these inequalities.

We look at research evidence from across the world on the experiences of people from minority ethnic and religious groups, and any ways in which public services have tried to reduce unfairness. We have also held workshops in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK, attended by experts including voluntary and advocacy organisations that represent people from these populations, policymakers, service professionals and others who can contribute. We will specifically consider the needs of women and young people in minority ethnic and religious groups as they can face additional layers of disadvantage.

Exclusion of some groups from opportunities appears to be rising, even in countries where wealth is increasing overall. Failure to include all social groups in development has led to most people from minority ethnic and religious groups being more likely to have low paid work, to live in slums with risky conditions and to have poorer access to healthcare, education and finance. People from these populations are also excluded from systems for justice and government and from decision-making about things that affect their lives. This kind of unfairness leads to public unrest and unstable societies.

Public services can be a major influence on how well people from disadvantaged ethnic and religious groups are able to participate in society and be treated as full citizens. Supporting institutions to provide services more effectively to people from such groups is an essential issue for cities that want to be inclusive. This involves political and social challenges, however, as competition for work and resources often drives conflict between ethnic groups. Institutions can fail to give priority to this issue and may not record the ethnic and religious identity of staff or service users.

There is agreement among many international bodies working in low and middle-income countries that equality and fairness must be given more priority in future in order to improve the economic well-being and life chances of all people in these countries.

Our work addresses Sustainable Development Goals 10 and 11, Reduced Inequality and Sustainable Cities.

Network overview

Socially Inclusive Cities comprises of nine partners. It was established in 2017 through funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund. The network brings together experts including voluntary and advocacy organisations representing people from under-represented populations, policymakers, service professionals and others with an interest in social inequalities.


Between February 2017 and March 2018 we convened 18 national workshops and four international workshops. These events enabled policymakers, service professionals, voluntary and advocacy organisations, and other experts from Asia, Africa and Europe to meet and exchange ideas.

Workshop participants took part in discussions and responded to academic and stakeholder presentations to explore theoretical and practical aspects of reducing inequalities among minority groups.


  • Ghazala Mir and colleagues presented a paper on their findings from the project at a United Nations conference.
  • Upendra Bhojani and colleagues have published a paper about findings in India in the Indian Journal of medical Ethics
  • Duong Doan, Ghazala Mir and Bui Ha have published findings from Vietnam in the Vietnamese language paper in the Journal of Science Research Health and Development.
  • An accessible animation highlighting key findings from the Network’s activity
  • A collaborative group of over 250 service providers, policymakers, NGOS and third sector organisations, and academics with a common interest in this area of policy delivery;
  • Literature review, 54 papers selected from 1954 abstracts;
  • Seventeen national and four international workshops;
  • Three global reports and 12 country-specific reports;
  • A final, overarching future research strategy highlighting evidence gaps and research areas that could help to reduce inequalities.


Country reports

Global reports

Workshop reports and presentations


Ghazala Mir, Network Director, University of Leeds

Winnie Mitullah, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi. Kenya

Benjamin Uzochukwu, University of Nigeria, Nigeria

Bui Thi Thi Ha, Hanoi University of Public Health, Vietnam

Doan Thi Thuy Duong, Hanoi University of Public Health, Vietnam

Upendra Bhojani, Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, India

Joyce Ogwezi, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria 

Tolib Mirzoev, University of Leeds

Saffron Karlsen, University of Bristol

Bassey Ebenso, University of Leeds

Shahab Adris, MEND

Tom Chigbo, Citizens Leeds

Gary Dymski, University of Leeds

Steve Ouma, Pamoja Trust, Kenya

Chinyere Okeke, University of Nigeria, Nigeria

George Michuki, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Nigeria

Shenaz Bunglawala

Narayanan Devadasan, Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, India


International workshops

Partners pooled evidence from their literature reviews and national Network activity at four international workshops

  • International workshop 1 (UK): What are the Key Drivers of Exclusion for Minority Ethnic and Religious Communities?
  • International workshop 2  (Nigeria): What Strategies for Inclusion Have Been Evaluated in Public Services?
  • International workshop 3 (Kenya): Intersectional Disadvantage – How do Age, Gender and Migration Status Compound Exclusion for Minority Ethnic and Religious Groups?
  • International workshop 4 (UK) – What Future Research Would Support the Social Inclusion of Minority Ethnic and Religious Groups?

Full presentations may be accessed through the following link:

International Workshop Presentations and Future Global Research Agenda

National workshops

Partners held a series of workshops in each country involved in the Network, bringing together policymakers, practitioners, NGOs and academics to discuss the evidence from our systematic review of global literature and evidence from each partner country.  A full list of people involved in the Network events can be viewed here.

Contact us

For information about joining the Inclusive Cities Network, please contact Ghazala Mir.