Intersectionality and Disability-Inclusive Development

Intersectionality is a term coined by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. This term describes how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap (Coaston). In other words, identities are complex and multiple. The term “intersecting identities’ was used by organizers in the 2017 Women’s March to describe how people are “impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues” (Coaston). Intersectionality is essential to inclusive sustainable development because it can provide an understanding of the exclusion that we currently see in development initiatives. For example, development initiatives that address violence against women of color can be co-opted by identity politics, which often conflate and ignore intra group differences (Crenshaw 1). Violence against women is shaped by other dimensions of identity aside from gender, such as race and class (Crenshaw 1). This is just one example of many that elucidate how oftentimes, identity politics play a larger role in policy-making and development programs than intersectionality. We must change the perception and the narrative from one of identity politics to one of intersectionality.

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