"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own." (Audre Lorde)
I love this quote from the astounding writer, poet and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde. I find myself going back to it often; the quote states the significance of intersectionality ever so simply. Intersectionality might be a new term to you, but stick with me and I'll explain why it's vital to International Women's Day.
Intersectionality is not just elements of one’s identity — instead, it's about intertwining forms of oppression that an individual experiences. The term was coined by scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw, in the '80s. She started exploring the concept to help describe her experiences as a Black woman: she faced sexism because she was a woman and race discrimination because she was Black. But being a woman and being Black are not independent of each other. The two forms of discrimination intersect and form her experience — hence, intersectionality. And really, the term describes all types of overlapping forms of marginalization, helping us understand the wide range of an individual's experience based on sexual orientation, religion, disability or race.
An intersectional lens is a critical factor when evaluating full equality. Unfortunately, we don’t always look through multiple lenses on important topic like pay equity. It is widely publicized that women are paid roughly 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. But for a Black women, that gap widens to 64 cents and for Hispanic women, it’s 56 cents on the dollar. For transgender women, there’s a more severe gap, if you can even find the data. Finding the numbers is tricky since transgender women experience double the rate of unemployment as compared to the general population.
International Women's Day celebrates the progress made for women's rights and equality. Keeping in mind what Audre Lorde said, the true equality of women must come with other equalities across social issues like sexual orientation, race and disability. Intersectional work aims to be inclusive of everyone and respecting of all parts of others’ identities.
So here's what you can do to make your International Women's Day intersectional:
I look forward to your feedback and if you have any other resources you’d like to share, I would love to see them. Happy intersectional International Women’s Day!