Why Race and Gender Still Matter: An Intersectional Approach

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Becoming comfortable recognizing difference also involves recognizing when that difference is not represented in the spaces you occupy. Diversity of all kinds matter in your workplace, your activism, your community spaces, and more. You may feel that your workplace is racially and ethnically diverse, but is it accessible to people with disabilities?

Take note of the welcoming or distancing practices of the spaces you frequent. Explore the narratives of those with different interlocking identities than you. In your own time, seek out existing intersectional narratives, from your podcasts to your television.


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If you are unsure about a concept or want to learn more about a specific intersection of identity, Google it! This will help you be better prepared to enter into conversations with others and progress together. Do not expect people who face different systems of oppression than you to rally for causes you care about if you do not rally for theirs. Listen and defer to those who live with these intersectional identities each day.

On your quest for more intersectional viewpoints, check out this list of podcasts. Listen to women share their thoughts on intersectionality here and here. YW Boston Blog. What is intersectionality, and what does it have to do with me? March 29, Share:. Here at YW Boston, intersectionality is central to the work we do. What is it and where does it come from? Intersectionality, n. The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise.

The report states that "Domestic violence has a clear gender direction, in that women as a main rule are the victims whereas the perpetrators are mainly men. The report summarizes: "Norwegian women are well integrated into working and political life, the welfare system ensures that poverty is a relatively marginal phenomenon and single parents, mostly women, are ensured necessary public support. This does not mean, however, that there are no gender gaps and challenges to gender equality.

The most important ones are related to the economic sphere, gender-based violence and the interface between gender and other forms of discrimination such as ethnic background, disability and sexual orientation. For many years Norway has provided support to the United Nations, the World Bank and the regional development banks in order to strengthen funds, programmes, activities and expertise that promote gender equality.

The Ministry of Health and Care Services described HIV positive immigrant women as triply discriminated - because they are women, because they are immigrants and because they are HIV positive. Women are therefore a high priority target group in the efforts to prevent HIV. Linguistic and cultural barriers often contribute to creating distance between immigrants and the health service.

It has proved to be extremely important to use people from peer groups when informing people about issues such as cohabitation, sexuality, HIV and sexually transmissible diseases. The country background report for Norway, which states the national equity objectives: "At least since World War II, education for all has been an ambition and a goal in Norwegian education policy. For higher education, the main national equity objectives may be divided in two groups. The first group is policy focusing on increasing equity of opportunity by improving access to tertiary education, while the second group concerns increasing equity of outcome, and thus focuses more on equity in tertiary education".

It includes an analysis of how the embassies in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Zambia have organised their women and gender equality efforts. The evaluation focuses on bilateral aid, primarily the institutional aspects, including organisation, resources, communication and decision-making.

Intersectionality and Liberal Education | Association of American Colleges & Universities

These documents do, however, take account of the fact that according to a number of studies, there seems to be a difference in the kind and extent of violence inflicted on girls and boys and that the effects of the same kind of violence are often gender-specific. Recommendations for policy and practice from the International Expert Seminar, January , Oslo. The report explores some relevant gender dynamics and suggests recommendations for practitioners on ways to improve the security of refugee and displaced women.

Girls with ethnic minority backgrounds in particular have a low level of participation. In Norway, women are almost as economically active as men, although there are still certain differences between the sexes. A Commission appointed by the Norwegian Cabinet has provided an overview over differences between women's and men's pay and considered measures to reduce pay differences. Vipe, Innovation Norway and the Ministry of Children and Equality's report regarding women and international careers.

On 28 March , the Norwegian Government appointed a Commission to propose amendments to the Children Act concerning establishment and change of paternity and maternity, etc. The purpose is to adapt the Act to the major social and technological developments that have taken place with regard to developments in family patterns, the possibility of assisted fertilisation and establishment of paternity with a high degree of certainty. Norway was the first country in the world to adopt a binding quota law in The successful example of Norway has been increasingly followed by EU member states.

This report assesses the measures adopted to open boardroom doors to women in nine EU member states and in Norway.

The goal of its work is to lay the foundation for an integrated, knowledge-based equality policy for the future. A summary is available in English. The Ombud has identified five main issues regarding the Norwegian gender equality policy, which they think is relevant when assessing Norway's compliance with the CEDAW Convention.

The UN Security Council has adopted four new resolutions on women, peace and security SCR , , and , and the Norwegian framework needed to be updated. The booklet may be used as a reference book based on what is relevant to you and your job. The field of LGBT has many terms and concepts that might be unfamiliar, which is why you will find a glossary at the start of the booklet. In the thematic sections, you will find a summary of recent research, divided into different chapters. The plan aims to prevent young people from being exposed to forced marriage and to provide better help and support to young people who are, or have been exposed to forced marriage.

The plan states that: It is particularly difficult for people who are discriminated against both on grounds of their beliefs, skin colour or ethnic or national background and on other grounds, such as gender, disability, illness or sexual orientation. The action plan against genital mutilation was put forward in December The plan includes many measures.

The approach of this action plan to help and protection is to take victims of violence and their experiences seriously.

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The strategy covers the period , and will be reviewed and, if necessary, revised in The Action Plan contains measures designed both to prevent, detect and prosecute crimes linked to trafficking in women and children, and to protect and assist those who have been and are victims of such crimes. Through this Action Plan, the Government is introducing measures that will help ensure that the police, educational institutions and support services are better trained, better coordinated and more capable of detecting, preventing and dealing with the many complex issues raised by domestic violendce. The measures contained in ths Action Paln will be implemented in the period The Plan contains 41 measures.

The Plan constitutes a broad initiative against genital mutilation aimed at both prevention and securing easy accessible health care for women and girls who has been exposed to genital mutilation. By means of this action plan the Norwegian Government wishes to place the LGBT perspective in all policy areas and in the ministries involved. The main objective of the new plan is to strengthen the participation of women in peace and security efforts. The Government's new action plan against human trafficking is part of the long-term efforts to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether national or international.

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The Government gives priority to preventing and combating domestic violence by working for a more secure, just and egalitarian society. In line with its policy platform, the Government will continue, intensify and improve the work against domestic violence. In this action plan the Government wants to provide a comprehensive description of political goals, strategies and measures to promote gender equality. The plan will be a tool to help implement and further develop equality policy in the years to come. Young people should be able to choose their education, their career and their future partners.

But one idea in particular— relationality —holds special promise for the work of educating for democracy. Why is relationality so important? Relationality allows for the interconnected interrogation of difference, identity, and power relations and the conflicts they entail.

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Furthermore, it challenges the idea that categories of difference, identity, and power exist in binary opposition to each other, when in fact the relationships among these categories involve varying degrees of opposition that result in complicated power dynamics and injustices. If relationality—or, in the context of undergraduate education, encouraging relational thinking in our curricular and cocurricular pedagogies and in our scholarship—is so critical to combating oppression in society, what are the implications for our approach to liberal learning?

In short, relationality requires a pedagogy that encourages students to acquire knowledge of social context and power dynamics so they are able to recognize social inequalities and equipped to pursue social justice for all, a necessary requirement for our democracy to continue and flourish. Class, of course, creates additional variations. There are challenges involved in implementing a pedagogy based on such a nonhierarchical methodology.

The false boundaries of knowledge prevent us from recognizing—and even allow us to deny—how power functions. While liberal education does not focus solely on issues of identity per se, the relationship between identity and power—sometimes called the politics of identity or identity politics—arguably shape what is taught and to whom; whose histories are told and not told; who is defined as object and not subject.


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This is true of literature and the arts, but it is also true of the social sciences and STEM disciplines. However, if these structures lack relationality and complexity—two defining dimensions of intersectionality—their transformative potential will be severely limited. A truly transformed liberal education would involve interdisciplinary modules implemented within disciplinary courses to help students understand the interconnectedness of and relationality among disciplines, knowledge, and experience.

Such an education would involve comparative, intersectional, and interdisciplinary study in history, philosophy, religious studies, literature, and political science. It would challenge students to engage with the core ideas of intersectionality, including social inequality, power, relationality, social context, complexity, and social justice. These core ideas—including, especially, relationality and complexity—emerge from the human experience and are key to defining the liberal education of the twenty-first century, just as the relationship between identity and power—although circumscribed by binary thinking about different hierarchical categories of identity, such as slave and free, male and female—was integral to the foundational concepts of liberal arts and liberal education.

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As alluded to above, the United States faces a violent conundrum of national identity that often seems continuous and unsolvable. Ethnocentrism, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and religious intolerance, functioning at the systemic and individual levels, combine with a lack of a shared understanding of our past, resulting in a national failure to contend with our complex history. This conundrum intrudes upon dialogues across and about diversity at all levels; it hampers the inclusion of knowledge and of people needed to transform our disciplines, fields of study, and pedagogies.

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I Know what Intersectionality Is, and I Wish it Were Less Important

Moreover, the violent conundrum of national identity challenges, impedes, and even distorts efforts to embrace diversity through a commitment to equity and inclusive excellence. The ultimate result is an obliteration of shared aspirations toward the Common Good. And the more polarized our politics has become, the more polarized the past. To the contrary, intersectionality offers a critical framework for understanding the interactive dynamics of race, class, gender, and other categories of identity, thus providing the space to grapple with inequality and inequity and to tell the truth of our national history.

It also reveals the possibility for and potential avenues toward social justice, as new scholarship unearths the complex, conflictual, connected stories that constitute our national narrative. Learning and accepting this complicated narrative in all its beauty and ugliness is the only way we can exorcise the horrors of the past and truly aspire to be the democratic republic we imagine ourselves to be. Intersectionality as a concept and practice is rooted in the politics of identity—the multiplicity of identity, the social location of identity, and the power inequities maintained by defining identities as disconnected from their social, political, and economic locations.

Intersectionality of Race and Gender: A Framework for Learning, Dialogue and Change
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