Sunday, October 9, 2016


Multi-level and intersecting forms of discrimination have always existed, although they have been more broadly acknowledged only in recent decades. Age, socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic background, religion, national origin, citizenship, status, health, particularly HIV/AIDS and disability, as well as poverty and sexual orientation, are examples of factors that can exacerbate or otherwise influence the nature of discrimination faced by women.

At the Fourth World Conference on Women, States recognized that “many women face additional barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights because of such factors as their race, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability or socioeconomic class or because they are indigenous people, migrants, including women migrant workers, displaced women or refugees.” In the Durban Declaration, States declared that they were “convinced that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance reveal themselves in a differentiated manner for women and girls, and can be among the factors leading to a deterioration in their living conditions, poverty, violence, multiple forms of discrimination, and the limitation or denial of their human rights.” They further recognized “the need to integrate a gender perspective into relevant policies, strategies and programmes of action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to address multiple forms of discrimination.”

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also addressed this in its general recommendation No. 25 (2000) on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination, in which it noted that “racial discrimination does not always affect women and men equally or in the same way. There are circumstances in which racial discrimination only or primarily affects women, or affects women in a different way, or to a different degree than men. Such racial discrimination will often escape detection if there is no explicit recognition or acknowledgement of the different life experiences of women and men, in areas of both public and private life.”The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in its general recommendation No. 25 (2004), also emphasized that State parties should address multiple discrimination against women by adopting temporary special measures. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first binding human rights treaty to explicitly address multiple discrimination against women and girls, requiring State parties to take measures to ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for women and girls with disabilities.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women has recognized the need to apply an intersectional analysis when researching gender-based violence to demonstrate different categories of discrimination against women.22 In a recent report on multiple and intersecting forms of violence against women (A/HRC/17/26), the Special Rapporteur argues that the elimination of violence requires holistic measures that address both inter-gender and intra-gender inequality and discrimination. This means that the analysis of gender-based violence should take into account factors that increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability, such as geographic location, level of education, employment situation, household size, marital relationships, access to political and civic participation, race, skin colour, intellectual and physical abilities, age, language skills and fluency, ethnic identity and sexual orientation.

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