March 8, 2015




Sunday 8th March 2015. This International Women’s Day IGLYO [1], the International LGBTQ Youth & Student Organisation, calls on governments and civil society actors, to adopt intersectional approaches in the fight for gender equality, and in the drafting, creation and implementation of policies.

March 8 marks International Women’s Day when the international community focuses on women’s achievements and mobilises public and private actors to fight for women’s rights and gender equality [2]. The day is a powerful reminder that the world has made undeniable progress in the fight for gender equality, but despite the progress made, structural and social obstacles still persist strongly for realising the rights of women, girls and individuals who identify as queer/feminine.

IGLYO board member Mina Tolu highlights that “often in mainstream advocacy and policy-making women and girls are treated as homogenous groups, making our unique challenges as women from particularly vulnerable groups invisible and ignored.” She added that “IGLYO believe that in order to comprehensively address violence, discrimination and oppression women of all kinds experience, we must adopt an intersectional approach and policies that support all women and girls who might face and experience multiple oppressions in their daily lives.”

IGLYO believes that an intersectional approach can help and aid visibility of the challenges and issues faced by the most vulnerable and marginalised groups within women and girls, in particular but not limited to women who do not identify as heterosexual, trans women, women with different (dis)abilities and/or women of colour. Intersectionality [3] recognises that cultural, economical, social and political patterns of discrimination are not only intertwined, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. This means that certain groups of women may experience multiple oppressions, because they are enacted intersectionally. In short all women struggle due to patriarchal system placed in the world, but a part of women are far more likely to face injustice due to the other forms of maltreatment.

Last year European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights published a report on Violence against Women that distinctly demonstrates the multi-layered discrimination that women may experience. 48% of non-heterosexual women had experienced violence while the number for was 21% for those identified as heterosexual. On the other hand 34% of women with a form of disability had survived violence as opposed to 19% who had no disability. The research does not account for women who might belong to three or more intersections. Although the figures are shocking no matter what group one investigates, it underlines the importance of intersectional tools for achieving gender equality.

International Women's Day 2015 - Make it Intersectional

Mina Tolu adds: “”We at IGLYO stress the particular needs and challenges of young LBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer) women, girls and individuals identifying as queer or feminine who are at an increased risk of being bullied, this causes dropouts and increases the chance of mental health problems often leading to suicidal thoughts. Furthermore these individuals are more exposed to violence and physical assault. Governments must gear policies that ensure the safety of young LBTQ individuals whose concerns are too often neglected in the national human rights strategies.”

Today women’s and human rights advocacy organisations celebrate the twenty-year old Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that set the agenda for realising women’s rights. Nevertheless the declaration, among all the other existing international treaties and agreements on eradicating gender inequality, disregard the intersectional approachthat is prerequisite for the full realisation of all women’s and girls’ human rights.

This is why IGLYO demands for governments to adopt an intersectional approach, in order to move beyond the singular categories and avoid imposing rigid interpretations of women’s experience. It allows policymakers to examine simultaneous impact of and resistance to systems of different oppressions. Mina Tolu concluded that “It is only when political intersectionality is established, that we can rest assured that governments are committed for realising the rights of all women and girls.”


[1] IGLYO is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation. IGLYO is a network gathering over 80 LGBTQ youth and student organisations in Europe.
[2] We understand the gender categories women and girls as inclusive of anyone who does not identity as male/man. Furthermore structuralized and gender based discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and expression affect more than those assigned female sex at birth.
[3] Intersectionality is the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. The concept of intersectionality  comes from feminist theory, and though the idea existed before, Kimberle’ Crenshaw is credited with giving a name to the concept in 1989. The theory of intersectionality posits that the various strands of social identity do not exist independently but interrelate.

For more information contact:
Nitin Sood, IGLYO Communications & Advocacy Officer
International LGBTQ Youth & Student Organisation

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