Intersectional feminism, also referred to as intersectionality, is a way of thinking about people and their identities. Intersectionality is the idea that people are more than one thing, and the combination of those things intersect in different ways and create different experiences. Oftentimes we are discussing women, what it means to be a woman, the way women can be treated differently. Gender is a highly important aspect of equality, but it is not the only. Ethnicity, religion, ability, age, sexuality and nationality are parts of people that form an overall identity. Some identities are marginalized by society and are discriminated against. Being a woman is one thing, but being a lesbian woman could expose you to more stigma from society, in comparison to being straight. This could apply to being older, having a disability, coming from a certain religious or ethnic background, or any combination of these identities. The way that they overlap and form new experiences, is what intersectionality is. It is important to look at intersectionality in gender responsive procurement practices.
Gender responsive procurement adds a gender lens to sourcing and procurement practices. Analysing gender analytics within supply chains, with the aim of achieving gender equality. As women are often the ones facing marginalization, it is easy to focus on that aspect of their identity. But women are never just women, there are always other factors that impact how they are perceived and treated. Diversity comes in many forms, and if you are aiming for a diverse and inclusive supply chain then intersectionality is the right approach.
In the coastal city of Mombassa, Kenya, a Dutch business consultancy has launched a new project. The agency, MDF, in association with RVO Netherlands, has started a project called BOOST, focussed on ICT training for people in Mombassa to reduce high levels of unemployment in the region. ICT services and repairs was typically considered a male dominated field, both in Mombassa and the world. As more money was invested into training and qualifying people to become ICT specialists, there was more and more interest from women. Women have since become qualified and opened businesses in IT repair.
This is interesting for intersectionality as the demographic of Mombassa has quite a high Muslim population. Women in the Islamic faith have now become much more comfortable and confident in utilizing IT services when required, because they can now get their devices fixed by other women. As they may have photos or videos on their devices without a hijab that they would not have wanted a man to see. This is an example of the way that the multiple identities of gender and religion, within a person can intersect. Women previously did not feel comfortable going to male IT repairs, but now can do so much easier. And whilst it is an interesting anecdote, this example provides a clear business case for considering intersectionality in business. The female IT repair companies are now very popular services, and the women running them are profiting! Women who are given the opportunity to be trained and qualified can add so much value to the market, in ways that haven’t yet been predicted. Which is why it is crucial to use intersectionality in gender responsive procurement practices.