Improving the lives of vulnerable populations so that all people may experience God’s love sometimes requires moves to seek equity rather than just equality.
Achieving equity may require understanding of, and consideration of the concept of intersectionality.
Wikipedia describes intersectionality as an analytical framework that tries to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are the most marginalized.
Race, gender, disability, religion, class and sexual orientation are forms of social stratification that do not exist separately from each other, but are interwoven together, the theory of intersectionality suggests. Many forms of oppression exist, compound and affect people’s life journey.
Intersectionality is an approach that affects everyone, says Larissa Schneider, project manager global programs at MEDA. MEDA works with ethnically diverse populations, some of which face discrimination, she said. Taking a blanket approach that all women face the same challenges, for instance, is simply not true.
Given that many different factors hold people back, the starting line is not at the same place for everyone, she said. “If we don’t consider those systemic speed bumps that certain people face, we’re all not going to get ahead.
“What can we do to make everybody flourish?”
Taking intersectionality into account is a growing part of MEDA’s work, in line with the Canadian government’s feminist international assistance policy (FIAP). The government of Canada has made FIAP a priority in its international development projects. ◆