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Intersectionality, Multiple discrimination

The occurrence, interaction and mutual amplification of different forms of discrimination

Intersectional or multiple discrimination is present when a person is affected by different forms of discrimination at the same time. One form can impact on another and they can even amplify each other.

Multiple discrimination

Where multiple discrimination is present, the various forms – such as sexism, racism, ableism, classism or homophobia – can each generally be named and analysed. They do not necessarily impact upon each other. For example, a woman with a refugee or migrant background is often affected by sexism because she is a woman and racism because of where she comes from.

Intersectional discrimination

Intersectional discrimination is a particular form of multiple discrimination. In this case, the various features of discrimination amplify each other and overlap in a way which often means that they can no longer be clearly named as distinct from each other. A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf, for example, might be treated by other people as if she is not a mature citizen in charge of her own life. In this way, the combination of the features ‘gender’ and ‘religion’ lead to another, different experience of discrimination.

Intersectionality and feminism

A fundamental aspect of how we identify as feminist at medica mondiale is an intersectional feminism. Not all women are affected by discrimination to the same extent so overcoming disadvantages due to sexism alone will not result in all women experiencing justice and equality. Only a feminism that is intersectional can recognise the very different forms of discrimination and their impact on each other, and then find comprehensive and appropriate solutions.