Strengthening women’s Rights in a multicultural Europe

European Women’s Lobby

 

World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, September 2001

Recognising the intersection of gender & ethnicity/colour

Article 1.1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations (1965) defines racial discrimination as :“Any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

From a gender perspective, this definition only partially identifies the specific forms of discrimination experienced by women, considering that there is an intersection between discrimination based on the grounds of gender and of ethnic origin or colour, which results in forms of multiple discrimination.Gender roles and relationships have changed with time and from one society to another, however the status of women has consistently been lower than that of men.Women from communities experiencing racism face a disproportionate level of discrimination as a result of forms of multiple discrimination :both as a woman in their group, but also as a Black or migrant person or coming from an ethnic minority and facing institutionalised racism as a result.

While the modern women’s movement raises issues of concern for all women, the predominant problem for Black, migrant and ethnic minority women is not only gender discrimination, but also the entire system of racial and ethnic stratification that defines, stigmatises and controls these groups as a whole.As a result,Black, migrant women or women from ethnic minority groups face different barriers, limitations and forms of discriminations in society than men from these groups.

The Expert Group meeting on Gender and Racial Discrimination (21-24 November 2000, Zagreb,Croatia) 1 suggested that a methodology be developed which would analyse in depth the violations occurring at the intersection of gender and ethnicity/colour.The EWL fully supports the development of this intersectional approach, which addresses the way racism, sexism, class oppression, and/or other kinds of discrimination overlap creating complex intersections.



September 2001



 



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