Why Is Intersectionality Important For Women? A Deep Dive Into It

Deepanwita Dey Society 5 Mins Read
published on: 28 December 2023 last updated on: 29 December 2023
Intersectionality Important For Women

It’s two decades into the 21st century, and people are still divided into cast, creed, race, and gender. We have also picked up sexual orientation and physical challenges to marginalize more people and communities. Now why is intersectionality important? By definition, we know intersectionality as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

However, if you delve deeper into the problem, you will know how you need to be mindful of every factor that marginalizes people. For the longest time, women have been a marginalized group facing inequalities and injustice. So, feminist intersectionality can be a powerful tool to eliminate violence against women and girls and establish their rights.

Here, I have made an attempt to understand intersectional feminism and its relevance in the present day.

Feminist Intersectionality: What Is It? 

Feminist intersectionality, or the term intersectional feminism, became known in 1989. Kimberlé Crenshaw, an intersectional feminist and lawyer, coined the term. After 30 years of introducing the term, she had a candid interview with Time in 2020. In her interview, she made an attempt to eliminate the misconceptions about the term.

She said, 

It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.

Elaborating on the concept, she mentioned how women are still paid less. This inequality of pay further makes women suffer as they age. Divorce, childbirth, and health issues are other situations in which women have to bear the brunt of unequal pay.

Further, we must understand that a lack of pay parity gives rise to domestic violence. Even today, women suffer a lack of financial security. So, many of them perish in an abusive or violent relationship. 

These scenarios again make it clear why feminist intersectionality or intersectional feminism is important today.

Why Is Intersectionality Important For Women?

First of all, if we talk about intersectionality, we have to know it as a cumulative problem. The marginalization does not only include violence against women. To explain further, a woman may have other social identities that can make her experience of marginalization more complex. For example, she can be a black woman with a same-sex orientation. All these factors will contribute to the unequal treatment she receives from the society.

Also, if you understand why intersectionality is important for women, you need to have a look at what Sonia Maribel Sontay Herrera says. She is an Indigenous woman, and she is also a defender of human rights from Guatemala. She shares,

For me, personally, racism has been the hardest challenge. People look at us differently, they treat [indigenous women] differently. When I finished my studies and started looking for professional work, some people said, ‘I do have work for you, but at home. They see us as domestic workers; when they see an indigenous woman, they assume that’s all we can do.

She further added how indigenous women, women from rural areas, young girls, and young girls with disabilities are always at a higher risk. The other victims of intersectionality are young people who do not conform to binary gender identities.

So, intersectional feminism is very important for women, men, and every human being. Let’s again explore the specific factors making the concept and practice crucial for the human race. 

Crises And Their Impact Are Not Equal 

As I just said, the impact of inequality is not uniform. Various elements of injustice make the experience of inequality compound. The basic problems related to the pre-existing needs are already there. There is already a disparity in the following factors.

  • Food
  • Medical Benefits
  • Care
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Protection
  • Employment

With a new element of crisis being added to the problem every day, it becomes difficult to address the issues of the most vulnerable people and communities. Women, being one of the high-risk groups of inequality, struggle to make their voices heard. I hope you now know why is intersectionality important. 

Now, intersectionality can bring the various or fragmented struggles of women and the entire human race under one umbrella. In this way, at least the bigger and macro-level problems can be solved faster with forums or boards built in this regard. Of course, for the micro-level issues, there should be a dedicated and more localized approach.

Inequality Must Be Challenged 

Do you know what the biggest problem for us is? We don’t see a problem as our own unless it has any impact on us. This selfish mindset and a lack of empathy are what drive us back as a race. So, your experience of marginalization may be different from others. In other words, two people can be from marginalized communities, but their problems may not match.

However, if we find a problem affecting anyone, we must pay attention to it and try to resolve it. This is the fundamental principle of intersectionality. So, any form of injustice or inequality is wrong, and that should be challenged.

In this context, the mother of intersectional feminism, Kimberlé Crenshaw, had a distinct take, explaining why is intersectionality important. In the same Time interview, of which I have mentioned earlier, she said,

If you see inequality as a “them” problem or “unfortunate other” problem, that is a problem.  We’ve got to be open to looking at all of the ways our systems reproduce these inequalities, and that includes the privileges as well as the harms.

The Changes Or Refinements Need To Be Fair For All 

Intersectionality also reveals that we only see inequalities in social and economic structures whenever there is a big crisis like COVID-19.  When all the graves are dug up, and the dead are back, we try to go into reset mode.

Intersectionality is important to ensure that all the changes or refinements done are fair for all. These reset modes should be more than face-saving exercises. These must indeed be justice and equality for everyone. 

Final Words: Why Is Intersectionality Important? 

Feminist intersectionality is the order of the day because it allows us to build a society that is stronger, fairer, and better for all. But why is intersectionality important in our everyday lives? 

On a day-to-day basis, intersectionality minimizes domestic violence, lack of financial resources, and food crises. It also ensures access to necessary healthcare.

So, beyond a major concept of restoring equality in different structures, it’s something that you will need to practice and follow on an everyday basis.

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