Intersectionalities in Inclusive Sustainable Development

When different identities overlap at a particular time, it is called an intersectionality. People exhibit intersectionalities between many different characteristics including, but not limited to, age, gender, sexuality, minority, disability, and SES. The convergence of these characteristics means all the stressors and challenges from each identity are brought together.

The example that was given in class was that of a Black woman with a mobility impairment. This individual has all the stressors and challenges of being a minority, a woman, and having a disability, which means her situation and problems could be quite different from someone who only has one or two of the same identities.

The UN Major Groups Framework was implemented in 1992 at the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where it was recognized that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. The framework formalized nine sectors to be included in all UN activities related to sustainable development. These Major Groups are:

  • Women
  • Children and Youth
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Local Authorities
  • Workers and Trade Unions
  • Business and Industries
  • Scientific and Technological Community
  • Farmers

There are a few other groups included in a broader category of Major Groups and other stakeholders (MGoS). These other stakeholders were officially recognized for their important role in achieving sustainable development and were included in the 2012 Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want.” These other stakeholders are:

  • Persons with Disabilities
  • Volunteers
  • Aging
  • Education and Academia

Even though the number of groups has expanded, there are still many issues with the Major Groups framework. These groups are assumed to be able to represent an entire identity. For example, the women group is supposed to be able to represent all women simultaneously, however, there are many within that category that may be left behind due to an intersectionality with another identity. Taking from the class example, women of color or women with disabilities may not be represented properly because their specific challenges from their intersectionalities may not be considered. In short, the MGoS are insufficient to cover the intersectionalities that are present in the field of inclusive sustainable development.


The intersectionality of age and disability is at the forefront of my capstone project. While food insecurity could be a problem for everyone, most people think about children when they think about hunger and malnutrition. My project is examining the issues of food insecurity for older adults and persons with disabilities to make sure they are included in Singapore’s plans to remain a top food secure nation.