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Mieke Verloo ESCR Seminar Intersectionality: From Idea to Implementation 10th December 2010 – 9.30-5pm University of Brighton.

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Presentation on theme: "Mieke Verloo ESCR Seminar Intersectionality: From Idea to Implementation 10th December 2010 – 9.30-5pm University of Brighton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mieke Verloo ESCR Seminar Intersectionality: From Idea to Implementation 10th December 2010 – 9.30-5pm University of Brighton

2 Why intersectionality?  Gender never comes alone…  As a concept, intersectionality draws the attention to how inequalities are interwoven and not always ‘packages of disadvantage’.  Not just at the level of identities, also at the levels of structures, movements and projects.

3 3 Inequalities  Our societies are ridden with inequalities along many different axes or dimensions  Our societies differ in whether and how they see these inequalities to be important, problematic, in need of action  Civil society, social movements and politics engage in various activities towards abolishing various inequalities  The strength of these political actors varies tremendously

4 4 How inequalities relate to each other in society  The discussion about what is the most important/ encompassing inequality in a certain context is inevitably political  How the relation between different inequalities is conceptualized is crucial  My position: inequalities are related to each other, they are intersecting, and therefore there is no full equality for anyone “group” unless also other inequalities are tackled, at all levels and in all domains.

5 Intersectionality in policy  Quite new to have or ask for explicit attention beyond ‘target groups’.  Most attention in targeted gender equality policies (special projects for specially disadvantaged groups)  Little or no attention in gender mainstreaming, nor in equal treatment policies.

6 How to do intersectionality?  Do we have ‘good practices’, or ‘practices with potential’ that show how to do intersectionality in gender equality policies?  Not really, the QUING project found very little of those… (see Final STRIQ report on www. quing.eu)

7 Current developments in European Union policies  EU directives:  Treaty of Amsterdam, 1997, art 13. …the Council […] may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, religion or belief, disability and sexual orientation.  Charter of Fundamental Rights, 2000, art.21  Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC): the principle of equal treatment between people irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and gives protection against discrimination in fields of employment and training, education, social security, healthcare, and access to goods and services.  Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC): the principle of equal treatment in employment and training irrespective of religion or belief, sexual orientation, and age.

8 Current developments in European Union policies  The new EU Directives ‘ fix’ a particular understanding of inequalities  A ‘widened’ set of inequality categories that get attention  Sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, religion or belief, disability and sexual orientation  Denying intersectionality  A ‘shrunk’ understanding of ways of dealing with inequalities as compared to gender equality policies  Gender equality policies in the EU currently do include attention for: the level of social structures and institutions; the level of states or EU institutions, and for the private sphere…  The EU approach to multiple discrimination lacks all this.  The main problem causing inequality is seen to be discrimination, to be addressed by equal treatment, preventing discrimination, and some positive measures

9 How to do intersectionality?  In contrast, we found enough cases of ‘bad practices’, where the intersection of gender with other inequalities was overlooked, or, even worse, where gender equality policies were feeding into the reproduction of other inequalities.  There are ‘bad’ practices such as stigmatisation, lack of attention for the specific situation or discrimination of intersectional groups, or the fading away of gender when the attention turns from gender equality to broader defined goals such as diversity.  Therefore there is a need to do intersectionality in a reactive form => by exposing intersectional bias.

10 How to do intersectionality?  Against this back drop, how can intersectionality be integrated in gender equality policies?  Can we come to gender+ equality policies?

11 How to do intersectionality? Good practices on intersectionality in gender equality policies can only be ‘good’ if they are embedded in good gender equality policy, that is:  if they are transformative, recognising the structural character of gender inequality across many domains in their proposed actions and measures.  If they are rooted and shaped in constructive struggle and dialogue with civil society organisations working towards the abolishment of gender inequality.

12 How to do intersectionality?  The pragmatic approach to doing intersectionality:  Instead of an ongoing compartmentalization of legal provisions  Focus on the ways in which existing rights standards can provide strong protection for individuals whose experience crosses the pre-set institutional lines  Strategy of ‘applied intersectionality’ (Sattertwaite 2005). Example: migrant domestic workers  Comparing Belgium and the Netherlands on anti- discrimination

13 How to do intersectionality?  The structural approach to doing intersectionality  Conceptualize practices of mainstreaming structural inequalities  ‘Stretch’ gender mainstreaming to encompass both structural and political intersectionality  Develop forms of comprehensive (or ‘equality’) mainstreaming, such as race/ethnicity mainstreaming, sexuality mainstreaming

14 How to do intersectionality?  The procedural approach to doing intersectionality  Organize deliberation between different groups representing different axes of inequality  Facilitate coalition building  Organize struggle between different groups representing different axes of inequality

15 Which intersectionality in Europe?  Currently on the rise: attention for sexuality equality and hence also for intersection of gender and sexuality. Still contested, especially is some Southern countries and Central European countries.

16 Sexual orientation  EU is pioneering in equality regardless of sexual orientation  General recognition in Treaty of Amsterdam  Some protection in employment and training  Some signs that this creates new (at least discursive) opportunities for the LGTBQ movement  Should make it more easy to address heteronormativity as one of the building blocks of gender inequality

17 Which intersectionality in Europe?  Currently turning into a full fledged pattern of racialisation: the intersection of race/ethnicity and religion (Muslim in the West of Europe, Roma and Jews in Central Europe).  Gender comes into the picture when it is about demographic deficit policies including reconciliation policies.  Gender also comes into the picture when it is about sexuality (Muslim) and crime (Roma).

18 European racialization (Goldberg 2006)  The Euro-legacy on colonialism is often seen as a problem that Europe caused ‘outside’ Europe.  The Holocaust is the defining event, reducing the racial to the Jewish question.  Yet, the figure of the ‘Muslim’ has historically also bookended modern Europe’s explicit historical anxieties about Blackness.  The Muslim population is increasingly racialized to a unitary category.

19 Which intersectionality in Europe?  The two focuses of attention are not independent: case of the Netherlands…

20 The exemplary state of the Netherlands: opening speech of ILGA-Europe by Dutch Minister  “As Europeans, we are united in the fight for equality and equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people worldwide”.  “As the host country of this conference, the Netherlands is glad to be at the vanguard. Because we have a high standard to live up to”.  “Religion, culture or tradition may not be used as an excuse where the protection of human rights is concerned. Human rights are golden rules that apply to everyone, everywhere and at all times. They are obligations of international law. You cannot simply place a group of people outside the law on the basis of their sexual orientation” 10/01/2015Cross-movement politics and fighting inequalities Mieke Verloo ILGA-Europe 2010 20

21 And then the other face of this government…  Human rights are golden rights and obligations of international law but….  “where new national policy is limited by legal barriers, the Netherlands will actively work towards changes of EU or other treaties, directives of agreements”.  ( p. 3. Het kabinet respecteert internationale verdragen. Ook verdragen bieden burgers en hun grondrechten bescherming. Daar waar nieuw nationaal beleid op juridische grenzen stuit zal Nederland zich binnen de Europese Unie of in ander verband inzetten voor wijziging van de betreffende verdragen, richtlijnen of afspraken.) 10/01/2015Cross-movement politics and fighting inequalities Mieke Verloo ILGA-Europe 2010 21

22 10/01/2015Cross-movement politics and fighting inequalities Mieke Verloo ILGA-Europe 2010 22 More excerpts from the Dutch governmental agreement 2010  P.26: If someone’s behaviour or dress impedes his (!) chances on being available on the labour market, a refusal, discount or withdrawal of social security rights will result. If needed the government will come with a proposal for this. (Indien gedrag of kleding van iemand feitelijk zijn kansen op beschikbaarheid voor de arbeidsmarkt beperkt, volgt een weigering, korting of intrekking van een uitkering op grond van de Wet Werk en Bijstand (WWB). Zo nodig zal het kabinet daartoe met een voorstel komen.  P. 23. New requirements linked to family migration can be realised when European Directive 2003/86 will be revised. This government will push for: higher age limit for partners (24 years)/ allowing just one partner in 10 years/ higher income demand (120% of minimum wage/ a / a test if the bond with the Netherlands is stronger than the bond with other countries/ (…)/ the possibility of having education requirements. (Belangrijke nieuwe eisen aan gezinsmigratie kunnen bijvoorbeeld worden gerealiseerd bij aanpassing van de EU-richtlijn inzake gezinshereniging (2003/86). Daarbij zal het kabinet onder meer inzetten op: verhoging van de leeftijdseis voor de partner naar 24 jaar / toelating van maximaal een partner in de tien jaar / verhoging van de inkomenseis naar tenminste 120% van het minimumloon / invoering van een borgsom / invoering van een toets waaruit blijkt of de band met Nederland groter is dan de band met andere landen en (..) Tot slot zal met het oog op het belang van kwalificatie ten behoeve van participatie en integratie worden ingezet op opneming in deze richtlijn van de mogelijkheid opleidingseisen te stellen aan gezinsmigranten.

23 Which intersectionality in Europe?  The eternal need to refocus on class, especially under conditions of rising neo-liberalism. – Cuts in welfare state disproportionally affect women and gender equality agencies as well as feminist civil society, and all projects for social justice – Mismatch popular gender equality topics onto this development: disproportional attention to glass ceiling and other white middle class women’s issues – The weakened position of gender mainstreaming in European-level initiatives has led to gender and all issues of social justice being marginalised or ignored in national and EU policy responses to the crisis (Smith & Villa 2010).

24 Summing up:  There is an ongoing need to explore and try out how to do intersectionality in equality policy making,  But a decreasing number of places for try- outs in actual realities.  Exposing and reacting to policies that increase intersectional equalities may therefore be more realistic….


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