Toolkit
16 Jun 2009
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Intersectionality: Moving Women’s Health Research and Policy Forward

Women’s Health Research Network Olena Hankivsky, Renée Cormier, and ...+1 more
Women’s Health Research Network
Olena Hankivsky, Renée Cormier, and Diego de Merich
Global
30 mins
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Who it's for
Intersectionality in women's health research and policy
  • Health researchers, policy analysts, program and service managers, decision-makers, and academics
What you'll learn
What's in the toolkit?
This primer explores how health researchers, policy analysts, program and service managers, decision-makers, and academics can effectively apply an intersectional perspective to their work. It provides an overview of intersectionality; a comparison of intersectionality to other approaches; a rationale for the use of an intersectional approach in gender and women’s health research; step-by-step guidance for integrating intersectionality into research and policymaking; and case studies on violence against women, cardiovascular disease, and HIV/AIDS.
The key assumptions of intersectionality
The key assumptions of intersectionality are a) the pursuit of social justice as the main objective; b) the conceptualisation of identity and social categories as multi-dimensional, dynamic, historically grounded, socially constructed, and linked to the macrostructural level; and c) power as central to analysis, as it has a critical role in creating and perpetuating the personal and social structures of discrimination and oppression in the context of a given issue.
A woman walks wearing all black, and a headscarf.
Key Takeaways
1
How to apply intersectionality to health research
How to apply intersectionality to health research
Engage research subjects to gain insight into their subjective experiences and self-identified needs, and collaboratively generate research questions. Review literature to determine the extent to which a) different axes of diversity are relevant; b) the relevant axes of diversity are incorporated in the analyses; and c) a more diverse sample would have yielded different findings. Centre power in the analysis, address social categories simultaneously, include a heterogeneous study sample, and be flexible.
2
Apply intersectionality to different research methods
Apply intersectionality to different research methods
For quantitative methods: examine statistical intersections and use an approach that explores differences among and between individuals of varying backgrounds. For qualitative methods: study individuals’ unique social locations and experiences with power and privilege. For mixed methods: situate the qualitative results within the general framework of society provided by the quantitative analysis to better understand how social barriers may prevent equal participation.
3
Identify and involve key stakeholders
Identify and involve key stakeholders
Key stakeholder groups include research participants, social justice communities, policymakers and service providers, and other researchers.

As a method of analysis, intersectionality attempts to empirically examine the consequences of interacting inequalities on people occupying different social locations as well as address the way that specific acts and policies address the inequalities experienced by various groups.

Applying intersectionality to a policy cycle
1
Phase 1: Agenda setting
Phase 1: Agenda setting
Identify if the problem is experienced differently by various social groups; undertake a situational analysis; identify what categories of experience are prevalent; and determine whether a current policy addresses certain disadvantages but creates discrimination for others.
2
Phase 2: Policy formulation
Phase 2: Policy formulation
Consider the impacts on marginalised groups and propose options that address the specific consequences of oppression.
3
Phase 3: Policy implementation
Phase 3: Policy implementation
Ensure implementers are compliant by maintaining the inclusion of affected key stakeholders throughout the process.
4
Phase 4: Policy assessment
Phase 4: Policy assessment
Compare results with the baseline to assess whether policy objectives have been achieved.
5
For a multi-strand project, consider the following
For a multi-strand project, consider the following
1) Analyse broad dimensions and specific operations of the policy field to identify inequalities; involve stakeholders in collecting evidence and identifying inequalities; and collate, synthesise, and thematise findings, 2) Vision with the available evidence collected. ‘Vision’ changes required at all levels of implementation, 3) Road test with the collated visioning and design consultations. Run ‘scenarios’ for each vision and identify what services need to be in place, and engage stakeholders to ensure these will have intended benefits, and 4) Use monitoring and evaluation to refine advice. Set equality and Human Rights indicators and outcomes; identify inspectorates and provide inspection criteria; set strategy for ongoing data collection; and use feedback from consultations to refine advice cross-strand.
A woman leads three cows in Burma

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