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Grounded in black feminist scholarship and activism and formally coined in 1989 by black legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality has garnered significant attention in the field of public policy and other disciplines/fields of study. The potential of intersectionality, however, has not been fully realized in policy, largely due to the challenges of operationalization. Recently some scholars and activists began to advance conceptual clarity and guidance for intersectionality policy applications; yet a pressing need remains for knowledge development and exchange in relation to empirical work that demonstrates how intersectionality improves public policy. This handbook fills this void by highlighting the key challenges, possibilities and critiques of intersectionality-informed approaches in public policy. It brings together international scholars across a variety of policy sectors and disciplines to consider the state of intersectionality in policy research and analysis. Importantly, it offers a global perspective on the added value and “how-to” of intersectionality-informed policy approaches that aim to advance equity and social justice.



1. Introduction: Bringing Intersectionality to Public Policy

The introduction situates intersectionality within the broader field of critical policy studies, traces the development of the relationship between intersectionality and public policy, and highlights key challenges, critiques, and possibilities of intersectionality-informed approaches in public policy analysis and studies. The authors lay out the distinct features of the collection and specifically its focus on demonstrating the value and “how-to” of intersectionality-informed policy approaches that aim to advance equity and social justice. Central questions of an intersectionality-informed approach to policy analysis underpinning the contributions include: What is assumed and what is left out within convention framings of policy problems and affected populations? How does intersectionality improve on existing approaches and whose experiences are at the centre of analysis? How does intersectionality-informed analysis incorporate the voices of marginalized groups? And how does the analysis speak to liberation and social justice that is grounded in the needs of the community being targeted by the policy? In the final section, the authors outline the various overlapping sections of the handbook. They describe the breadth of contributions to each theme, across continents, in a variety of context and geographic locations, and including scholars at all career stages, from a range of sectors and disciplines.

Olena Hankivsky, Julia S. Jordan-Zachery

Foundations in the Field


2. How Does One Live the Good Life?: Assessing the State of Intersectionality in Public Policy

Public policy as an interdisciplinary science has enjoyed growth in its influence, stature in academia, and methodological sophistication. Public policy scholars have advanced knowledge in how we understand the emergence, determinants, and impacts of policy across a wide variety of geo-political, nation-state, and institutional contexts. The author contends that these scholars should more fully integrate an intersectional lens—one that would help elucidate how people see themselves, how they envision their life options, why they respond to public policies in the manner in which we observe in our empirical work, and, sometimes, how they emerge and function as leaders in their communities. The author reviews the origins of intersectionality as a conceptual and analytical framework, discusses why interest in it is growing among scholars, and provides two applied policy examples to illuminate how the field might benefit from deploying an intersectional lens.

Tiffany Manuel

3. Reflecting on Am I a Black Woman or a Woman Who Is Black? A Few Thoughts on the Meaning of Intersectionality

It has been an amazing 11-year journey since I wrote this piece that I will now attempt to reflect on. During this time, some of the issues/concerns I asserted in the initial piece are still germane to me and I am still confronting how I do intersectionality. In this chapter, I am less concerned with “updating” or “talking back” to “Am I a Black Woman or a Woman who is Black”; instead I want to focus a bit more on how I have grappled with the questions/issues I raised in that article. I conclude with a critical reflection of where I am regarding my relationship to and with intersectionality—both personal and professional. This reflection will not be “perfect”, but it will be my truth (a cornerstone for me as I practise intersectionality). As a practice, I am committed to self-reflection, community empowerment, truth telling, and most importantly justice and liberation—and I bring this all to my studies of intersectionality and public policy.

Julia S. Jordan-Zachery

4. Intersectionality and Public Policy: Some Lessons from Existing Models

In comparison to research practices, intersectionality is an underdeveloped concept within policy discourse and application. Because of the complexity and relative newness of this approach, policy analysis grounded within an intersectionality framework remains largely undertheorized, and methods for integrating intersectionality into policy processes are in the nascent stages. This chapter (1) defines intersectionality and demonstrates the need for this approach in public policy, (2) outlines challenges in applying intersectionality to policy making, and (3) describes and evaluates three innovative approaches to applying intersectionality to policy development and analysis.

Olena Hankivsky, Renee Cormier

5. Empirical Intersectionality: A Tale of Two Approaches

Intersectionality theory has been characterized as the most significant intellectual contribution of gender studies to the world. Surprisingly, at least part of its success has been attributed to its vagueness. Nowhere is this more true than in the empirical applications of intersectionality. When enacted empirically, intersectionality theory is usually conceptualized as a theory that fits four standards of empirical social research: (1) It explains a phenomenon. (2) It is grounded in a substantive literature. (3) It is falsifiable. (4) It is methodologically agnostic. Is this, however, the most appropriate way to empirically operationalize the legal theory of intersectionality? This chapter examines two contrasting empirical operationalizations of intersectionality theory and suggests a series of trade-offs between them, including preservation of theoretical integrity and current litigational utility. To do so, the author uses an ongoing research project concerning same-sex marriage, or marriage equality as it is termed by advocates, to illustrate distinct empirical methodologies that are compatible with the intersectionality-as-testable explanation and paradigm intersectionality approaches, respectively.

Ange-Marie Hancock

6. An Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis Framework: Critical Reflections on a Methodology for Advancing Equity

In the field of health, numerous frameworks have emerged that advance understandings of the differential impacts of health policies to produce inclusive and socially just health outcomes. This chapter presents the development of an important contribution to these efforts—an Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) Framework that provides guidance and direction for researchers, civil society, public health professionals and policy actors seeking to address the challenges of health inequities across diverse populations. Importantly, this chapter presents the application of the IBPA Framework in seven priority health-related policy case studies. The aim of this chapter is to inspire a range of policy actors to recognize the potential of IBPA to foreground the complex contexts of health and social problems, and ultimately to transform how policy analysis is undertaken.

Olena Hankivsky, Daniel Grace, Gemma Hunting, Melissa Giesbrecht, Alycia Fridkin, Sarah Rudrum, Olivier Ferlatte, Natalie Clark

7. The Difference That Power Makes: Intersectionality and Participatory Democracy

This essay explores how developing more complex analyses of power and politics sheds light on important themes for both intersectionality and participatory democracy. Drawn from intersectional inquiry, Part I, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Hypervisible Power and Invisible Politics,” outlines three focal points of a provisional power analytic: (1) how analyses of intersecting, structural oppressions underpin systems of domination; (2) how a domains-of-power framework provides a set of conceptual tools for analyzing and responding to intersecting power relations; and (3) how a more robust analysis of the collective illuminates the political action of subordinated groups. Part II, “Black Feminism, Flexible Solidarity and Intersectionality,” builds on this power analytic by examining power and politics from the standpoint of the resistance traditions of historically subordinated groups. By no means the only or universal case, African American women’s political action provides an alternative analysis of power and politics. Black feminism conceptualizes intersectionality and politics in flexible, pragmatic terms with an eye toward an overarching vision rather than in the static, ideological terms of political theory. It thus constitutes an important site for seeing the deepening commitment to participatory democracy as an alternative to technical agendas of the state. Part III, “The Difference That Power Makes: Implications for Intersectionality and Participatory Democracy,” discusses implications of intersectionality’s power analytic for projects for intersectionality and participatory democracy.

Patricia Hill Collins

Innovative Methodological Directions and Implications for Policy Analysis


8. Quantitative Approaches to Intersectionality: New Methodological Directions and Implications for Policy Analysis

Intersectionality is a way to approach the collection and use of information and explain data patterns. This chapter discusses several major methodological challenges in the application of quantitative methods to intersectionality: (a) measurement of identity with cross-national survey data, (b) accounting for power structures, and (c) the small n problem. It also discusses several solutions: structural equation modelling, survey data harmonization, big data, and mixed methods. The authors argue that factorial analysis within structural equation modelling invites new possibilities to measure intersections. Survey data harmonization, at a large enough scale, turns into big data with a sufficient number of cases to construct and analyse nuanced intersectional groups. The mixed method approach uses both quantitative data to generalize across populations and qualitative approaches to delve deep into social and political processes that can reveal and explain power structures.

Joshua K. Dubrow, Corina Ilinca

9. Cultivating Intersectional Communities of Practice: A Case Study of the New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium as a Convergence Space for Co-creating Intersectional Inquiry, Ontologies, Data Collection, and Social Justice Praxis

How can intersectional scholar activists and practitioners cultivate communities of practice that embrace intersectional ontologies and knowledge projects for the advancement of equity and social justice? What role can ongoing critical self-reflexivity about ethical inquiry, data collection, analysis, and praxis (action and reflection) play in advancing and institutionalizing intersectional social justice transformations? The purpose of this chapter is to provide a case study of the work of the New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium as an example of a convergence space for communities of practice committed to intersectionality as a social justice praxis. Using United States Census and American Community (ACS) Survey data on New Mexico, the authors showcase how an intersectional lens can yield more complex portraits of intersecting inequalities in education and income in a given sociohistorical context. The chapter ends with policy recommendations for the creation of legislation that requires intersectional data infrastructure and analysis as the new “gold standard.”

Nancy López, Michael O’Donnell, Lucas Pedraza, Carmela Roybal, Jeffrey Mitchell

10. Beyond Economic Barriers: Intersectionality and Health Policy in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Intersectionality—a framework for understanding how multiple sources of power and disadvantage intersect and influence behaviours, practices, and outcomes—increasingly drives a growing body of research the world over. More recent work also focuses on translating these concepts and evidence into the policy sphere. This chapter explores the concepts of deep poverty, hyper entitlements, rationing, and leveraging as linked to the positionality and voice of different groups in the intersectional socioeconomic order. Both positionality and voice are important in determining what policies are enacted, how they come into being and are implemented, and what their impact might be on specific groups. The authors argue that for groups at both extremes of the socioeconomic order, important sources of inequality tend to reinforce each other, albeit in opposing directions. Synergies of this kind do not hold for groups in the middle of the order for whom different sources of advantage and disadvantage may work against each other. These differences also account for the shifting positionality and voice of particular groups across geographic locales and time. They shape the fluidity of relations among groups, as manifested in complex politics of accommodation, negotiation, collaboration, and opposition, with important implications for policy formulation and implementation.

Gita Sen, Aditi Iyer

11. Lobbying Suicide Prevention Policy for Gay and Bisexual Men: An Intersectionality-Informed Photovoice Project

This chapter examines how photovoice, an arts-based and participatory action research method, can be used along with an intersectionality framework to advance knowledge on health inequities and to lobby policy solutions that are grounded in the lives of affected individuals. The authors present the processes and some empirical findings from a Vancouver (Canada)-based project that seeks to understand gay and bisexual men’s experiences with suicidality. Included were 29 gay and bisexual men affected by suicide from diverse backgrounds who captured in photographs and narratives their experiences and thoughts about suicide and suicide prevention. This resulted in more than 350 participant-produced photographs, which when analysed through an intersectional lens lobby suicide prevention policies by illuminating power, attending to multiple interconnected aspects of identities, and celebrating the strengths of gay and bisexual men. The photographs and narratives offered innovative mechanisms for knowledge translation and community-based interventions in line with the social justice aim of intersectionality. As such the authors curated two in-person exhibits as well as an online gallery of the photographs to raise public awareness, mobilize communities, and lobby policymakers.

Olivier Ferlatte, John Oliffe

Different Perspectives on Persistent Problems


12. Understanding Single Womanhood in China: An Intersectional Perspective

Over the past few decades, the marriage rate has been decreasing across the globe and the populations of the singles have been rapidly increasing. Despite such significant changes, marriage norms remain strong throughout the world. Drawing on the intersectionality theory, this chapter presents an interlocking matrix of oppressions for single womanhood. Based on extensive literature review on single womanhood, the authors argue that multiple stigmas, including singlism, sexism, ageism, classism, as well as racism/ethnicity-based biases, all contribute to the negative experiences of single women across different cultural contexts. The oppressions occur on multiple levels, as results of the interaction across micro-, meso-, and macro-levels. The proposed matrix is later elaborated in the context of Chinese society to demonstrate its applicability. The chapter ends with a discussion of the potential to advance knowledge about gender inequity and to provide an informed framework for improving single womanhood.

Crystal Li Jiang, Wanqi Gong

13. An Intersectionality-Based Framework for Tobacco Control

While Pederson et al. (Health Promotion International, 30(1): 140–150, 2014) propose a framework for gender-transformative health promotion to address tobacco control, this chapter proposes an intersectionality-based framework for health promotion and tobacco control. This approach offers a more nuanced understanding of health promotion and tobacco control precisely because it does not consider gender as an independent category. Gender cannot exist as an independent category and always intersects with ‘race’, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, and class (Phoenix and Pattynama, European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13: 3, 2006). This chapter argues that public health research and policy on cigarette smoking and tobacco control must acknowledge the social and cultural context of cigarette smoking in order to develop relevant and appropriate public health programmes and policies.First, this chapter reviews the literature on young people and cigarette smoking, focusing specifically on the gaps in the literature and the absence of research studies on African-Caribbean young women and cigarette smoking in the UK. The author then presents a summary of her research study which uses Cole’s (American Psychologist, 64: 170–180, 2009) questions in developing an intersectional research methodology. Finally, this chapter argues that an intersectionality-informed research evidence base is necessary to develop an intersectionality-based framework for tobacco control policies relevant to global tobacco use in the twenty-first century.

Jenny Douglas

14. ‘If They Beat You and Your Children Have Eaten, That Is Fine…’ Intersections of Poverty, Livelihoods and Violence Against Women and Girls in the Karamoja Region, Uganda

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a common occurrence, but the daily struggles to meet survival needs take precedence over rights, entitlements and freedoms. As such, violence against women and girls thrives on deprivation, poverty, acceptance and concealment coupled with women’s dependence on men and male-dominated decision-making in most spheres of life. Even with increased awareness about VAWG, there was a fear to lose ‘care’ among women and custody over their children, which kept violence unreported and hidden. In practice, for policies and programmes to be effective, the multiple vulnerabilities of being female, mothers, poor, illiterate, married and the limitations on access and control over household and communal resources as intersectionalities need to be addressed. It is important for policy makers and programme implementers to continuously develop and adapt interventions and approaches considering the multilayered lived experiences of women and girls that expose them to and sustain violence.

Joseph Rujumba, Japheth Kwiringira

15. Through the Looking Glass: An Intersectional Lens of South African Education Policy

This chapter explores South African education policies by using an intersectionally informed approach to policy processes. It focuses on curriculum and school fee policies as a platform for discussion of the unique approach the government employed to modify their adoption of democracy and transformation. Unfortunately, many scholars reluctantly concede that South Africa’s ambitious policy initiatives fail to provide social justice in schools. With a political ideology of democracy emerging, one would think that democratic educational structures would act to diminish race, class, and gender inequalities; however, this has not been a pervasive result. By advancing a case for intersectionality when undertaking policy processes, policymakers are recommended to understand what foregrounds the policy in regard to complex contexts, class, gender, and race. Intersectionality reveals a variety of multi-level overlapping social locations, forces, factors, and power structures that shape and influence South African life and education. This chapter challenges the normative approach towards policy processes by introducing an intersectionally policy-informed approach to examine policy processes. Intersectionally developed public policy is significant because it is a means by which societies regulate themselves and attempt to channel human behaviour. In this way, policies have profound and pervasive effects on individuals and populations.

Michèle J. Schmidt, Raj Mestry

16. Scaling Educational Policy and Practice Intersectionally: Historical and Contemporary Cases from South and Southeast Asia

Gender, race, caste, class, and religion, to name just a few axes of differentiation, are social constructs that have inflected the varied and unequal lives of people throughout the world for generations—some forever. To date, most have been investigated individually. Since the inception of the intersectionality framework by feminists two decades ago, however, it is now superior to analyse them as entwined, as mutually constitutive. Such intersectional approaches promise to enhance insights into continued inequalities at local, regional, national, as well as international scales. Intersectional scholars note, however, that this framework has yet to reach its potential theoretically, methodologically, and practically. A case in point is its underdevelopment within public policy discourse and application (Hankivsky and Cormier, Political Research Quarterly 64:217–229, 2011). In this chapter, the authors apply theoretical and methodological advances to the intersectionality framework from previous publications (e.g., Mahler, Chaudhuri, and Patil, Sex Roles 73:100–112, 2015) to the critical public policy sector of education. They examine how historical and contemporary education policies have been gendered and ethnicized in cases from South and Southeast Asia. Their intersectional analysis documents how policies and the people affected by them are negotiated simultaneously across multiple social scales—historical as well as geographical—en route to discriminatory outcomes.

Mayurakshi Chaudhuri, Viola Thimm, Sarah J. Mahler

Community Engagement and Advocacy for Change


17. Intersectionality and Indigenous Peoples in Australia: Experiences with Engagement in Native Title and Mining

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia are culturally diverse, with varied experiences of colonisation. However, policy and planning processes often treat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as a homogenised bloc, erasing differences of opinion, values, politics, and experiences and avoiding analysis of internal power dynamics. There is also a tendency for non-Indigenous policymakers to conflate ‘Indigenous’ with ‘environmental’ interests and values. Thus, despite often good intentions, consultation and engagement processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples generally fail to adopt an intersectional approach and in turn not only often fail in their stated goal of inclusivity but may exacerbate existing conflicts within a particular group and unintentionally reproduce inequities. In this chapter, the authors outline an understanding of intersectionality as informed by Aboriginal women and bring together insights from two Australian case studies to explore some of the problems that emerge from a failure to adopt an intersectional lens when engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. They consider multiple and co-constituting axes of power with a focus on the relationships between colonisation, kyriarchy, and the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples and outline considerations for operationalising intersectionality, particularly in the context of Native Title.

Natalie Osborne, Catherine Howlett, Deanna Grant-Smith

18. From Gender Sensitivity to an Intersectionality and Participatory Approach in Health Research and Public Policy in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, public policy reforms are shifting the welfare state towards a more activating ‘participation society’. Their implementation might have considerable consequences for variously situated populations in terms of care. In this context, a social movement has emerged advocating for gender sensitivity in research, health care, and health (research) policy, and this includes gender medicine. With a sex and gender(-first) focus, gender medicine is useful for answering certain questions in health and care but also has its limitations.The authors explore such limitations and discuss the importance of an intersectional approach which aims to capture intersections of sex and gender with other dimensions of difference such as class or ethnicity. Intersectionality-based health research meanders strategically between categories and identities, which helps raise awareness of health disparities. Yet, knowledge does not self-evidently end up in health policy, because a linear relationship between evidence and policy cannot be assumed. This chapter advocates for intersectionality informed participatory approaches to health research and policy development, which provide more valid tools to intervene and inform more equitable health policies, add to an innovative knowledge base, and offer a more effective scientific foundation for the development of inclusive and more equitable health policies and programmes.

Petra Verdonk, Maaike Muntinga, Hannah Leyerzapf, Tineke Abma

19. Intersectional Analysis of Age in the Context of Rural Health Policy in Ukraine

Ukraine’s rural residents are disproportionately affected in the country’s health crisis due to challenging socioeconomic conditions and disintegration of rural health care. The government acknowledged the issue but has not attempted to address rural health crisis. This submission presents the diversity of health needs of rural residents in Ukraine through the intersectional analysis of community consultations conducted in 2012 in five villages. The research investigates how health needs of rural populations are affected by the intersections of age with income and employment. The chapter contributes to the literature on health in transition countries and to intersectional literature by turning attention to age. The findings point to unemployed young and children in rural areas as the most disadvantaged age groups. Their disadvantages cannot be understood without considering the effects of structural forces, such as transition from planned economy to capitalism. The author proposes to ground Ukraine’s rural health policy in intersectionality and give the voice to rural communities in setting the priorities for improving their health. Specifically, needs assessment for rural health care should be based not only on aggregate data but also on the lived experiences whose health issues are as diverse as intersections of their social locations.

Anna Vorobyova

20. Intersectional Advocacy and Policymaking Across US States

How are intersectional identities represented in politics? Using an original survey of 204 advocacy groups in 14 US states, this research considers how state legislative and lobbying conditions shape interest groups’ inclusion of intersectional issues on their policy agendas. Several aspects of state legislative environments, including the proportion of women in the state legislature and levels of legislative professionalism, affect the diversity of groups’ policy agendas, whereas aggregate measures of lobbying context have surprisingly little effect. A case study of Colorado’s 2011–2012 legislative agenda supplements these findings by considering the extent to which advocacy groups were able to promote intersectional policies within state government. This descriptive analysis shows that intersectionality was represented within Colorado’s legislative agenda but that many intersectional bills died over the course of the policymaking process. Though advocacy groups seem to play a key agenda-setting role within state legislative spaces, their work may not immediately produce laws that employ an intersectional framework in their purpose and implementation.

Kathleen Marchetti

21. Bringing Intersectionality into Danish Public Policy

This chapter applies an intersectional analysis to a community health framework based partly on phronetic action research and partly on a Foucauldian-inspired planning approach based on phronetic social science. The empirical case study describes a local planning process of a health project in a deprived community in Copenhagen, Denmark. Denmark can be seen as a pragmatic case example, as it is experiencing a growing inequality in health despite being based in a universal welfare state. The aim of the analysis is to find alternative theoretical and practical solutions to the current public health policies. The conclusion is that one alternative to the Danish national health documents is a cross-sectional community health approach based on phronetic action research. Intersectional-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) is another. IBPA applied to the case study has transcended the prevailing conceptualization of class, widened the perception of how it is possible to (re)think health, and has addressed some of the root causes to inequality in health. The case study elaborates that the Danish national health strategies instead of being oriented on general indicators should be orientated towards the actual conditions and contextual health needs and perceptions.

Heidi Lene Myglegaard Andersen

22. Intersectionality and LGBTI Public Policies in Colombia: Uses and Displacements of a Critical Notion

This chapter offers an approach to the experiences of public policy formation that have used the concept of intersectionality, in particular, those policies aimed at LGBTI people in Bogotá, Valle del Cauca, and Colombia. The authors propose an analytical exercise of these experiences, in which they have each participated at different times. These exercises have challenged the authors in terms of bringing proposals from social movements and academia, such as black feminism and feminisms of colour, among others, to the realm of the State. Their participation in the formation of these policies and in writing this chapter let them see strategies that allow movements among different political arenas and discursive practices, illuminating porosities and linkages within and among different scenarios: the State, academia, and social movements.

Camila Esguerra Muelle, Jeisson Alanis Bello Ramírez

Challenging Colonization


23. Decoloniality and Emancipatory Intersectionality: The Political Organizing of Domestic Workers in Brazil

Considering the public debate about expansion of domestic workers’ rights in Brazil, this chapter brings to the centre of the discussion the role of domestic workers’ political organizing. Based on interviews with domestic workers, this chapter seeks to understand the reasons behind the social inequality that has historically characterized this professional occupation. It is argued that the coloniality of power and the intersectionality among gender, class, and race are structural and dynamic factors capable of explaining this phenomenon. Furthermore, it is argued that domestic workers throughout history have articulated a social movement in dialogue with black, feminist, and unionized labour movements, as well as other social actors, and that this has allowed them to present a decolonial project. This dialogue and cooperation with such movements are termed emancipatory intersectionality. This chapter concludes by noting that in every legal step forward for this professional class, the organized political movement of domestic workers has been present.

Joaze Bernardino-Costa

24. “Who Will Use My Loom When I Am Gone?”: An Intersectional Analysis of Mapuche Women’s Progress in Twenty-First-Century Chile

According to many measures, Mapuche women have become empowered due to education, employment, and a demographic shift from the countryside to the major cities of Chile where their income-generating opportunities are greater. The Mapuche comprise 10% of the population of Chile and were only subjugated and incorporated into the Chilean nation as of the late 1800s. This chapter applies an intersectional and postcolonial framework to analyse a series of interviews with Petronila Catrileo, a Mapuche woman leader and elder, who worries that the achievements of the twenty-first century may pale when compared to the loss of Mapuche ways of life, connection to the land, and language in present-day Chile. This research is particularly important for Chile on a policy level where government offices serving women and indigenous people seldom interact, and when they do, they tend to reify differences between state employees and the people they serve. This chapter is also relevant for researchers and policymakers, more broadly, who often apply their own particular analytical lenses instead of an intersectional one when working with marginalized populations.

Serena Cosgrove

25. How Intersectionality-Based Approaches to International Development Illuminate the Plight of Palestine Refugees

Intersectionality is both an analytic framework and a complicated set of social practices that can, if implemented correctly, lead to collective solidarity and action. In practice, intersectionality has the potential to illuminate invisible and complex social relationships that bring to light hidden injustices, socially, politically, and economically. This chapter explores foreign development by drawing from scholarly and practitioner-based intersectional feminist literature, such as the work of Fenella Portman and Caroline Sweetman, to analyse contemporary trends in development practice, particularly around gender-based programming. Contemporarily, gender mainstreaming has been integral in maintaining and distributing gender politics to the Global South. Drawing on the case of Palestine, the author provides framework that merges current discourses laid out by Olena Hankivsky et al.’s intersectionality-based policy framework to create a new theoretical-based framework for international development professionals. In the coming sections, gender development will be adequately defined and framed from within both development/policy and feminist paradigms.

Charla M. Burnett

26. Intersectional Borders in Argentina: Migration, Inequalities, and Judicial Colonialism

The purpose of this chapter is to explore the challenges of intersectionality in the formulation of public policies in Argentina, and thus examine the colonialism ingrained within State structures in general and its judicial system in particular. To that end, this approach is based on the analysis of a legal process that condemned Reina Maraz Bejarano to life sentence in 2014. She is a migrant Bolivian woman, indigenous (Quechua speaker who does not understand Spanish), poor, and a victim of violence, who spent almost two years in jail accused of murdering her husband, also Bolivian, without comprehending the legal process by which she had been detained. This case, which embodies different intersections of social inequalities affecting a woman’s life, reveals the absence of public policies in Argentina oriented to respond to these intersections. The intention of this chapter is not to determine whether Reina is innocent or guilty but to enrich the discussion about the importance of including an intersectional perspective in the State sphere and in public policy-making processes in order to consider—and provide answers to—the many situations of inequality and oppression people face during their lives, which affect their experiences and their access to justice.

Maria José Magliano, Vanina Ferreccio

27. Hearing or Listening? Pipeline Politics and the Art of Engagement in British Columbia

Informed by intersectionality-based policy analysis (IBPA), this chapter contributes to the study of deliberative democracy to foster dialogue about sustainable energy futures in Canada and globally. It builds upon the diverse bodies of knowledge articulated during the National Energy Board hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMPEP) between 2013 and 2016 in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The chapter examines the relationship between citizen knowledge, public hearings and policy-making. It raises and responds to the following questions: What are the strengths and limitations of the TMPEP public engagement process to date? How can decision-makers operationalize IBPA and take seriously citizen’s situated and felt knowledges, expressed through oral testimonies, legal traditions and stories? What does meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities on energy initiatives look now and into the future? To conclude, this chapter discusses the value of creative communication avenues such as community filmmaking to cultivate space for dialogue about sustainable energy futures. See, for example, To Fish as Formerly, a short film co-produced by members of the Tsawout Nation with guidance from Dr Nick Claxton and researchers at the University of Victoria. As part of their oral testimony in Victoria, Tsawout representatives screened the film during their 2014 intervention.

Sarah Marie Wiebe

Responding to New and Pressing Challenges


28. Exploring Intersectionality as a Policy Tool for Gender Based Policy Analysis: Implications for Language and Health Literacy as Key Determinants of Integration

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in Canada has set the stage for inclusive policy. Health literacy, language spoken, and gender are among the selected differential resettlement determinants of refugees’ access to health resources and opportunities. Gender-based analysis (GBA) is a priority for IRPA for promoting inclusive settlement policies. However, these legislative structures do not reflect language and health literacy as important intersections for immigrant integration. The objective of this chapter is to demonstrate that intersectionality as a policy tool can help structural and political processes to promote social justice and integration commitments to settlement and health care policy.

Nancy Clark, Bilkis Vissandjée

29. The Significance of Intersectionality in Mental Health-Care Policy in South Africa

South Africa has progressive policies, which were generated to rectify the effects of apartheid and promote social justice. The National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013–2020 (Republic of South Africa, National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013–2020, n.d.) allows for a much-needed focus on mental health care. In the multicultural South African society, attention is required at the various levels oppression is experienced. However, research on disability, race, gender and mental health is limited in South Africa. The impact of scarce evidence on mental health outcomes and multiple identities is that a fragmented understanding of mental disorders exists and, subsequently, policies are not able to propose adequate interventions. In this chapter, an analysis of the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS; SALDRU, National Income Dynamics Study 2010–2011, 2015) revealed that gender, disability status and race of an individual intersect to result in negative mental health outcomes for Black African women with disabilities. These results show that policy would benefit if it considered identities that impact on mental health outcomes. From the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; United Nations, Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2015), it is important that data presented be disaggregated in meaningful ways for policy, planning and implementation to ensure that social justice is achievable for all citizens.

Jacqueline Moodley

30. Ageing-in-Place for Low-Income Seniors: Living at the Intersection of Multiple Identities, Positionalities, and Oppressions

Ageing-in-place refers to the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level. Often, ageing-in-place is assumed to be a positive experience; however, home is not always a positive place and can be perceived as prison-like or a burdensome environment. For older, ethno-cultural groups in Canada, acquiring adequate, comfortable housing is a challenge, especially when living with limited financial resources and lacking social and cultural capital. Using a community-based participatory research approach and a Multidimensional Intersectionality Framework, this chapter problematizes dominant, positive ageing-in-place policy discourses and provides experiential data to inform place-based policy directives for enabling older people to age well at home and in the right place. Policy implications of this work include further developing current understandings of sense-of-place that emphasize community participation, wellbeing, and nuanced experiences of older people.

Judith Sixsmith, Mei Lan Fang, Ryan Woolrych, Sarah Canham, Lupin Battersby, Tori Hui Ren, Andrew Sixsmith

31. Need and Opportunity: Addressing Diverse Stakeholders and Power in the Conflict over Toolangi State Forest, Victoria, Australia

Conflicts over the management and use of native forests in Australia have been defined as “acrimonious and intractable” (Dargavel, 1998, 25). The conflict over Toolangi State Forest, Victoria, is iconic of forest conflicts and remains unresolved. The conflict is heightening as the forest ecosystem and species are endangered, the native forestry industry is threatened due to reduced supply, and activism to protect the forest responds to changing situations and contexts. In the background, there are diverse stakeholders who feel unrecognised and excluded from decision-making. Contemporary politics and policy processes have been described as adversarial (Nelson and Pettit 2004) and warrant analysis from new perspectives to provide insight into the conflict and recommendations for improvement in policy processes that would recognise diverse stakeholders (including the environment), engender procedural justice, and achieve just outcomes for all. Environmental justice provides a framework for analysing conflict and associated resolution processes through its principle concerns of distributive, procedural, and recognition justice. However, recognition justice has been described as under-theorised (Schlosberg 2004), and intersectional feminism is used in this analysis to enhance the concept of recognition. With their combined focus on justice, recognition, power, knowledge, and change from the bottom-up, environmental justice and intersectional feminism present strong frameworks for analysing conflict and policy related to native forests and natural resource management.

Lisa de Kleyn

32. Listening for Intersectionality: How Disabled Persons’ Organisations Have Improved Recognition of Difference in Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme

Intersectionality is widely debated as a methodological problem. This detracts attention from the substantive sites of social injustice mapped by intersectionality scholarship. It also misrecognises the inroads made by civil society organisations that have mobilised for attention to intersectionality in policymaking and service delivery. This chapter analyses the extent to which claims for recognition of intersectionality made by Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) are heard in disability policy and related policy fields. Social justice listening is offered as a methodology for policy research and analysis that addresses some of the challenges identified with applying intersectionality in practice. It finds that ongoing engagement between government and Disabled Peoples Organisations strengthens recognition of intersectionality.

Cate Thill

33. Are We All ‘Baskets of Characteristics?’ Intersectional Slippages and the Displacement of Race in English and Scottish Equality Policy

This chapter will present comparative analysis of English and Scottish equality policy documents referring to intersectionality, specifically the meaning given to it and how it is deployed. It argues that, even within countries, a range of contradicting definitions are evident and that, although engagement with intersectionality is greater and at a higher level in Scotland, in both countries its deployment is largely descriptive, superficial, additive and inconsistent, leaving its potential unrealised. It also highlights a discrepancy between debates in intersectionality theory, as to the centrality of race and the social location of women of colour, and intersectionality’s meanings and uses in policy documents. It identifies the equality third sector as a key actor in influencing the recognition that is given to intersectionality and discusses challenges it faces in influencing policy. Finally it offers questions and recommendations for a take-up of intersectionality more aligned to its social justice orientation.

Ashlee Christoffersen

34. Timid Imposition: Intersectional Travel and Affirmative Action in Uruguay

This chapter is motivated by several overlapping concerns: contemplation of the role that international norms play in structuring politics and policy in domestic spheres; consideration of how one norm, in particular, intersectionality, is travelling, alongside its ongoing institutionalization; and more specific attention to the imposition of intersectionality in foreign contexts. It broaches these considerations via a comparative case study of Uruguayan affirmative action legislation and the belated gender-mainstreaming provision that was attached to it. By means of a qualitative content analysis, this chapter works through the question of how and why gender was added in the first place and what work it is meant to do. It concludes with a suggestion for taking up the privilege and disadvantage approach to intersectionality, which has the practical effect of focusing greater attention to variation within and across groups: a central intersectional goal.

Erica Townsend-Bell


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