Intersectionality in Development

Intersectionality is the idea of looking at solutions for a problem that considers all intersecting inequalities that could be affected by the problem. By looking at a development problem through the lens of intersectionality, it is possible to understand the impact different identities have on access to rights and opportunities. For example, if there were a policy that is meant to advance girls’ education, an intersectional approach would look at girls with disabilities and of various races to make sure it is intersectional. A truly intersectional policy would consider a wide variety of identities not only in the proposed creation of the policy, but in the proposed solutions and implementations as well. Multistakeholder approaches and intersectionality are similar ideas, but not all multistakeholder approaches are intersectional. It is possible for a policy to be formed by multiple groups representing different constituencies to not be intersectional to the truest form.

Intersectionality is incredibly important to inclusive sustainable development because it would help to make development more inclusive. By getting the opinions of every group that could be affected, the possible solutions are better suited to fit the needs of those groups. Race, gender, youth, and persons with disabilities are all groups that can be sometimes left out of policy consideration. Intersectional policies are important because different groups experience events and problems in different ways. Policies by governments and NGOs that do not consider the various identities even one person can have can produce ineffective policies. Underrepresentation can make it difficult for certain groups within larger marginalized groups to have their voices heard. For example, with gender there are multiple subcategories that need to be addressed when it comes to development policies. There are women of different ages, races, finances and women with disabilities. For gender issues to be effective, they need to include input from all of the different identities a woman could possess.

It is important to name various identities, and then make sure that those identities are included in policy decisions. By having a clear idea of all of the possible intersectional identities that exist, then there is an easier pathway for governments and other policy makers to make effective policies. Intersectionality is still a challenge with everyday policies, and a recent example is the gender wage gap. Many people know the fact that a woman makes only $0.78 to a man’s $1 but that is only true for white women in the United States, African-American and Latina women receive much lower wages. If intersectional identities are not known, then people are given the wrong information and the policies that follow from that are not as effective as they could be.