Intersectionality is the concept that we belong to more than one group and these groups shape the way we interact with the world and each other. These intersections occur based on our gender, sexual orientation, race, age, educational background, physical abilities and countless other experiences and traits that make us unique. Within international development, intersectionality is a new buzzword that aims to challenge the traditional approach to key issues in development. A traditional approach tends to provide a blanket solution for an issue, without considering the intersection of identities. However, intersectionality stresses that there is no one way for development to occur because everyone needs something different depending on their intersectionality. This possesses a challenge for development. How are we supposed to help everyone when everyone is different and has different needs?
There is no sufficient answer to this question. However, certain approaches can be taken to ensure that development is not just imposed upon a group in a manner that does not meet their needs. First, we must include each group in their issues. A lot of time decisions in development are made by a 3rd party, who do not understand the issues an intersection faces. Second, we must understand that the individual is not responsible for their oppression or intersectional identity, rather it is the social and political environment they are in that created these circumstances. This is important as the issues they faced are not by choice and believing otherwise belittles their experience. Furthermore, it is not the oppressed group that should have to change but society. Third, we must create specific solutions. Focusing on one specific group or issue is a far more effective approach compared to trying to fix everything at once with one blanket solution.
Within my capstone project, I have struggled with appropriately incorporating solutions for intersectional identities. My project aims to analyze the inclusion of women, LGBTQ, persons with disabilities, and indigenous groups in Fair Trade. However, I have contemplated how to capture the inclusion of the intersections of these identities. It is a difficult task because it could the intersection of 2 groups, all 4 groups, or any other identity that I am not considering. However, I have been trying to use the approaches above to develop my understanding of the inclusivity of these intersecting groups. Moreover, acknowledging that there are intersections of identity and that no solution can solve all issues, is one step towards more holistic inclusive development.