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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Nwakanma

Intersectionality and Gender Mainstreaming: A Deeper Dive for Equality

Hello there! 

Today, we're diving into the interplay of two powerful concepts that can revolutionize how we approach gender equality: intersectionality and gender mainstreaming. Previous articles on the EIGID blog post have sufficiently shed light on the concept of gender mainstreaming, so we will be delving straight into the Intersectionality Framework.

Keywords: Intersectionality, Gender Mainstreaming, Gender Equality, Social Justice, Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Understanding Intersectionality

Intersectionality is the theory that the greater the diversity of a person’s social (and physical) characteristics, the higher the likelihood that the person will experience discrimination and lower social power within society, ultimately leading to social disadvantage. The term intersectionality was coined in 1989 by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another to create the unique lived experience of an individual.  

The relevance of the concept of intersectionality is that it shows how unlikely it is that people who hold certain shared aspects of their identity (gender, in this context) will experience the social world, including the degree of social advantage and disadvantage, in the same way, or have the same lived experience despite similarities in their social context. For instance, the experiences of discrimination of a young black woman will be different from those of an aged black woman, a white woman, or even a black man. 

Intersectionality + Gender Mainstreaming: A Dynamic Duo

The understanding of both concepts has so far been established. The question now is what happens when we combine intersectionality and gender mainstreaming?

We create a powerful force for change, and here's how:

  • Identifying Gaps: Intersectionality helps us spot hidden biases in seemingly gender-neutral policies that might disproportionately affect specific groups of women.

  • Targeted Solutions: Understanding different women's experiences allows us to tailor solutions that truly address their needs.

  • Building a More Inclusive Movement: Intersectionality encourages diverse voices in the fight for equality, making it stronger and more effective.


The Expected Challenges

Of course, implementing these concepts isn't always easy. The experience of everyone will always be different, and realistically, some issues will fall through the cracks before we eventually get it right. However, having an awareness of the germane role intersectionality can play in advancing gender mainstreaming is a great way to start. Unfortunately, there are hurdles to be overcome and some of them are:

  • The Tendency to Overlook Intersectionality: Sometimes, the focus remains solely on gender, ignoring other social identities.

  • Data Gaps: Data collection often doesn't consider intersecting identities, making it hard to get the full picture.

  • The Historical Resistance to Change: As history has shown, humans will always be resistant to change. An intersectionality framework approach to gender mainstreaming will upset existing power structures which might in turn resist dismantling biases embedded in the system. 

Moving Forward: A More Equitable Future

By actively integrating intersectionality and gender mainstreaming, we can shatter the limitations of a one-dimensional approach to gender equality. This powerful synergy allows us to dismantle existing structures that perpetuate disadvantage and create a world where every individual, regardless of their social identities, has the chance to flourish and reach their full potential.



Coaston, J. (2019). The intersectionality wars.

Ruth, E. & Spiers, J. (2023). A Pragmatic Guide to Low Intensity Psychological Therapy.

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