As human beings, we all have multiple identities that overlap and intersect among themselves and the opportunities and barriers that any individual faces are influenced and shaped by their race, gender, class, religion, disability and numerous other characteristics alongside and in combinations with one another. The word we use to describe this perspective – and the approach we take to our work – is intersectionality.
In our new animation, some of the activists and human rights defenders we work with from around the Commonwealth explain what intersectionality means to them.
Making sure our work is intersectional is one of our core values and part of our approach is recognising that there is no liberation for LGBT+ people without feminism, which challenges the patriarchal norms which underpin so much homophobia and transphobia. The core issues of feminism are the same core issues which sit at the centre of the struggle for LGBT+ rights: recognition of full personhood, bodily autonomy, and equality for all. And LBTQ+ women and other gender-nonconforming people are directly affected by gender-based violence, which is often rooted in and driven by the same forces as violence against the wider LGBT+ community.
From 25 November each year, activists and organisations around the world unite to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls during 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. During this year’s 16 Days, we at Kaleidoscope Trust want to emphasise the importance of intersectionality to human rights advocacy and highlight the ways in which we and our partners are building coalitions for change to address gender-based violence against those made most vulnerable.
In central Kenya, for example, we supported LEHA, a feminist and community-based LBQ organisation, as they worked with their local Ministry of Health and with key stakeholders including the police, health care workers, the judiciary and other civil society organisations to tackle high levels of anti-LGBT+ and gender-based violence in rural areas.
In Mauritius, we helped bring together a coalition of civil society groups from different movements to push for the passage of the Children’s Bill, which includes provisions like the abolition of child marriage, the increase of the age of criminal responsibility, and better protection of children from violence and other forms of discrimination.
In Tonga, an intersectional coalition of civil society organisations was co-founded by Tonga Leitis Association, the country’s largest LGBT+ rights organisation. This coalition has worked with the government to build support for a series of recommended changes to the law which would provide better protection from violence for Tongan women and LGBT+ people.
These are just a few examples of some of the coalitions for change which we’ve supported. Keep an eye on our social media as we highlight some other examples over the coming 16 days. We’re proud to be part of a wider global movement for human rights and we’re proud to always be intersectional in how we approach our work.