Definition of intersectional feminism by Kimberlé Crenshaw:
“a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other” (Time)
It’s International Women’s Day and this past year made it clearer than ever why we still need to raise awareness on this day. When we talk about feminism, we shouldn’t just talk about putting women in leading positions, if we don’t talk about changing the oppressive system behind it. And most of all, when we talk about feminism, we shouldn’t just think of white cis women. The fight for gender equality, goes along with a system change that abolishes oppressive systems against any minority.
Therefore, it is indispensable to include woman of colour, trans women, non-binary people and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. As long as we don’t fight against racism, trans- and homophobia we will not reach gender equality. We all suffer under patriarchal hierarchies, but for a woman of colour, the colour of her skin adds to this, for a trans person, their identity adds to this, and so on…
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s exactly this. The pandemic painfully exposed the discrepancy of how it affected different communities and how far we still are from accomplishing equality.
From cleaning services, health care, home and childcare to grocery stores, women are on the front lines of the pandemic. Not only are these jobs essential in our society, but they also put their workers at a higher risk of getting infected or spreading COVID-19. According to Eurostat, in 2019, women made up 78% of health workers in the EU. In childcare it’s 93%, care work 86%, and domestic cleaners and helpers 95%. In conclusion, women are running the world during the pandemic and are paying a high price for it. Because almost all the jobs mentioned above are low-wage jobs, women are also more vulnerable in economic recessions.
If we then consider that many of these jobs are occupied by BIWOC and immigrant women, it becomes clear that the fight for gender equality is also a fight for racial equality and other forms of discrimination. For these women, several social identities overlap and pile up into various targets for discrimination.
2020 was one of the deadliest years for trans and gender diverse people around the world. According to the TMM (Trans Murder Monitoring) report, 350 trans and gender diverse people were murdered in 2019-2020. The number of reported cases of fatal violence against trans or gender non-conforming people increased by 6%. 97% percent of the victims were trans women or trans feminine people. The number of these cases is expected to be higher, as many of these cases are un- or misreported. According to the TvT (Transrespect versus Transphobia), COVID-19 has disproportionally affected trans people worldwide, “especially those most marginalised, such as Black and women of colour, sex workers, migrants, youth, and poor”.
So, looking back on this past year it has become very clear why we still need to hit the streets on the 8th of March. We should learn from our experiences and make a collective effort towards social justice. White feminism will not take us a long way. What we need is intersectional feminism and systemic change.
My sources: feel free to check them out if you want to dive deeper into the topic. I am a white cis woman, and I can only reproduce what BIWOC, trans and non-binary people have put out in the world. But nonetheless, I felt like it was important to use my platform to talk about these topics.