Celebrating Women’s Day and the Need for Intersectionality

OPINION – Despite being a daily occurence, gender-based violence and other gender-related issues are brought into the spotlight every August. Of course, August is a special month for South Africans as we celebrate the courageous women who, in 1956, marched against the ‘pass laws’. But, fast-forward a couple of decades and gender issues in South Africa are still rife. I could mention the shockingly high rates of reported rapes, sexual offences and domestic violence but, although these issues are of utmost importance, this is not what this piece is about.

In the recent years, the need for intersectionality is gaining more recognition. Defined as the interconnected nature of social categories, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class, intersectionality is not just a buzzword in feminist spaces. Rather, it is an indicator of the rising support for the inclusion of all marginalized groups. In other words, one cannot discuss gender-related issues without looking at how these issues affect the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour, people who are disabled, and poor people.

So how do we become more intersectional in our activism? For starters, listen to people who, because of their race, gender, sexuality, class, etc., have different experiences to you. Actively seek out diverse opinions and listen to these opinions even if they are criticizing your privilege. Secondly, be conscious of your words by paying attention to pronouns, gendered and ableist language. Does your use of pronouns discriminate against gender non-conforming and transgender people? Do you use adjectives that are ableist (e.g. using the word ‘bipolar’ to describe the weather)?

The above tips are just two out of the countless ways to make your activism more intersectional. For more information on intersectionality, check out Everyday Feminism.

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