Introduction to GBA+

Moving beyond sex and gender

Now that you have a foundational understanding of intersectionality, you may be wondering how these ideas can be applied to your work. GBA+ is an intersectional approach and isn’t an extra step, or extra work. Instead, GBA+ is an entry point that can help you reflect on peoples’ multiple identity factors, and how that may impact their experiences with government initiatives.

By applying an intersectional approach through GBA+ we will:

  • Be aware of our own intersecting identity factors, and advantages and disadvantages
    • What are your assumptions and unconscious biases? Where have you learned them (e.g. family values, community, education)?
  • Break down stereotypes and reveal the diversity and multiplicity of identity factors within different groups
  • Understand that each person’s identity is composed of multiple factors that intersect and impact their lives and experiences
  • Identify the environmental factors (e.g. social and systemic) that impact an individual based on their intersecting identity factors
  • Distinguish gender issues from women’s issues
  • Consider how multiple identity factors may limit peoples’ access to programs and services
  • Acknowledge that not all individuals identify with binary gender categories of male/man and female/woman, nor do all individuals identify with their birth-assigned sex

SWC has developed a job-aid to help you begin to include intersectional considerations in your GBA+.

GBA+ Intersectionality: job aid

SWC has developed a job-aid to help you begin to include intersectional considerations in your GBA+:

Download the GBA+ Intersectionality: job aid in PDF
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View the GBA+ Intersectionality: job aid in HTML

GBA+ Intersectionality

job aid

Considering the diversity and variability of initiatives, there isn’t one single, or “right”, way to apply an intersectional lens. However, there are some key considerations and questions to ask at each step of the process.

This tool is not exhaustive, but can help you reflect on peoples’ multiple identity factors, and how that may impact their experiences with government initiatives. Given that our work may differ as public servants, this job aid may be adapted and changed to meet your organizational and contextual needs.

The Intersectionality Job Aid will be most effective if you have taken Status of Women Canada’s online course, Introduction to GBA+, as it will provide a foundation for Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+). If you would like to dig a little deeper into GBA+, see the GBA+ Demystifying Job Aid which offers practical guidance on the use and implementation of GBA+ in your work.

Taking an intersectional approach (“unpacking the plus”)
  • What are the intersecting identity factors of the communities you are addressing?
  • How do these intersecting identity factors impact their lived experiences?
  • How do intersecting identity factors potentially impact the outcomes of your initiative?
Consider: Your own positions, identity factors and biases
Suggested Questions:
  • What is your lived experience? Specifically, what are your own identity factors, privilege(s)2, oppression(s), and positions of power3 in relation to the issue(s) you are addressing (e.g. class, race, education, ability)?
  • Based on your lived experience, what are your assumptions and unconscious biases?
  • Where have you learned them (e.g. family values, community, education)?
  • Are you a member of the impacted group? Are you directly impacted by the issue(s)?
Suggested actions:
  • Consider the issue from another’s perspective/position.
  • Reflect on your lived experiences, and how your intersecting identity factors may have advantaged and/or disadvantaged you.
  • Consider how your organizational culture and priorities impact your perspective, approach and work on the issue.
  • Use qualitative and quantitative data to challenge your assumptions.
  • Consider smaller studies and academic research, especially in the absence of data on marginalized communities.
  • Consider your past experiences, and how you have reacted when feeling disadvantaged.
Consider: Intersectional1 identity factors
Suggested Questions:
  • Are there groups that are likely to experience advantages or disadvantages? Have the groups changed over time?
  • Are there people in your community who are marginalized? Who are they? Where are they? How do they cope with the existing situation?
  • Have you considered the existence of such groups in the development of your initiative?
  • Is gender the natural entry point for your analysis? Maybe it’s ethnicity, or disability, or another identity factor.
Suggested actions:
  • Identify the groups you may have overlooked and consider their multiple identity factors.
  • Identify which groups have been newly affected.
  • Remember that identity factors are not compartmentalized and they can intersect to create differential impact (e.g. refugees with trauma, Francophone seniors).
  • Work with other federal government organizations when applicable, especially when there are intersecting government priorities and initiatives.
  • Determine the types of disaggregated7 data that are available, and identify information and data gaps.
  • Identify relevant issues that have been left out of the discussion, and address them.
Consider: Context
Suggested Questions:
  • Who says there is an issue?
  • Whose point of view is reflected in defining the problem?
  • Have the creation of any recent initiatives disproportionately impacted the lived realities of the group(s) you are addressing? If so, what are they?
  • Were the views of the impacted peoples included in the design of the initiative?
  • What are the macro4, meso5, and micro-level6 conditions and power relations at play?
Suggested actions:
  • Reflect on your data sources (e.g. Are they evidence-based?).
  • Identify why this particular group is vulnerable (e.g. historical context, Is this an on-going or emerging issue?).
  • Consider which environmental factors may be contributing to the issue.
  • Determine how should conditions impacting identity factors be accounted for and addressed.
  • Identify how and where the conditions intersect.
Consider: Existing structures
Suggested Questions:
  • What are the existing structures that protect or disadvantage marginalized communities? (e.g. tax regulations, access to public transit)
  • What are the specific intersecting identity factors that make people vulnerable to existing frameworks (e.g. low-income single mother, undocumented youth, trans-person of colour, rural Muslim)?
  • Who are the people most-impacted by these frameworks?
  • Are there subgroups and identity factors within this larger group that have gone unnoticed?
Suggested actions:
  • Determine the scope of the initiative.
  • Identify policies and frameworks that label groups as inherently marginalized and/or vulnerable.
  • Identify additional measures that should be considered and implemented to address the gaps and identify how these measures relate to your initiative.
  • Utilize existing processes (e.g. GBA+ and the Gender Results Framework).
  • Work with organizations that are working on the same issue.
Consider: Impacts
Suggested Questions:
  • Which groups have been impacted by an initiative? What are the intended impacts?
  • Are there unintended impacts? What is the scope of the intended and unintended impacts?
  • Have other groups been impacted by the initiative? If so, who are they? How have they been impacted?
  • Have you consulted with impacted populations? Have you accessed difficult to reach populations?
Suggested actions:
  • Create a “safe space” to engage the audience (e.g. recognize that you may be an outsider) and identify their needs (e.g. accepting and validating their lived experiences).
  • Scan media sources and ensure their legitimacy and accuracy.
  • Engage with and/or co-develop with grassroots organizations, think tanks and scientific/expert communities to identify intended and unintended impacts of the initiative.
  • Determine how to ensure full inclusion of impacted groups in identifying issues, impacts and solutions. Consider how participants are identified and ensure diversity in the target audience.
Next steps
  • Continue your intersectional analysis at all stages of the life cycle of your initiative.
  • Consult with the GBA+ focal point and GBA+ advisors in your organization when needed.
  • Act in alignment with the Gender Results Framework.
  • Regularly refresh your knowledge (through direct engagement when possible) about the lived experiences of diverse peoples.
  • Capture and document all of your reflections, discussions, analysis and ideas. Seek best practices from internal and external stakeholders (e.g. other departments, civil society).
  • Advocate for your needs: seek the resources needed to thoroughly address the issue.
  • Avoid categorical or checklist approaches as they can be limiting.
  • Identify (formal and informal) policies that are outdated and should be altered.
  • Anticipate future trends and evolving social norms (e.g. demographic trends, governmental changes).
  • Be prepared to engage management in a discussion about taking an intersectional approach to your issue.

1 See GBA+ online course, Introduction to GBA+, for an in-depth explanation of intersectionality

2 Unearned power, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities that exist for members of the dominant group(s) in society. Can also refer to the relative privilege of one group compared to another. (Source: Ontario Human Rights Commission)

3 Positions of power may include power over others, or power with others

4 Global and national-level institutions and policies

5 Provincial and regional-level institutions and policies

6 Community-level, grassroots institutions and policies and the individual/’self’

7 Disaggregated data refers to data broken down by age, race, ethnicity, income, education, etc.