Introduction to GBA+

Introduction to Intersectionality

As public servants, all of the work we do affects diverse groups of people. Because of the impacts of our work, we have to consider that groups of people are not homogeneous, as they have multiple, and diverse intersecting identity factors that impact how they understand, and experience government initiatives. Applying an intersectional approach helps you assess the potential impacts – positive or negative – of initiatives based on their multiple identity factors, enabling you to identify risks, and potential challenges at an early stage and create mitigation strategies. Applying an intersectional approach should be done at all stages of an initiative, from development to implementation. Considering and identifying the diversity and multiple identity factors of people helps us to innovate and to consider issues and policies in a different way.

It is essential to recognize that people have multiple and diverse identity factors that intersect to shape their perspectives, ideologies and experiences. For example, consider the multiple identity factors of an immigrant man with a disability. Rather than isolating the experience of being an immigrant from that of being a man from that of being a person with a disability, adopting an intersectional approach will enable you to see this individual as a whole being, with multiple identity factors.

Think big! Think big! The term “intersectionality” was coined by American scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989. While notions of intersectionality originated in the United States of America, it has been adopted and adapted around the world by individuals and groups that are seeking to identify the root of various inequalities. View Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s renowned Intersectionality TedTalk.

Intersectionality image: illustrating some of the identity factors considered in GBA+
Text version of Intersectionality image: graphic illustrating some of the identity factors considered in GBA+

This figure illustrates some of the factors which can intersect with sex and gender. Six oblong shapes of differing colors overlap and fan out. Each oblong has two identity factors written on it. The top oblong has “sex and gender” written in a larger font. Starting below sex and gender and going clockwise, the additional identities identified are: geography, culture, income, sexual orientation, education, race, ethnicity, religion, age and disability.