The Important Role of the Intersectional Identity Framework in Work and Life

As part of the ebbf pause series: Interviews about Inclusion, Samantha Fowlds sends this interview:

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Featuring: Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Affairs Canada.

“The Gender -Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) analytical process resonates with me a lot when we talk about inclusion because it’s about meaningfully bringing in diverse voices and experiences. It looks at policy and program development from a lens of how diverse groups may experience policies, programs and initiatives based on their intersectional identity factors such as age, race, biological sex, gender, socio-economic standing, religion, mental and physical ability, and geography, such as rural versus urban for example, said Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims, Senior Policy Advisor at Global Affairs Canada, when I offered her an open mic for this interview.

For 25 years Cheshmak has worked on issues relating to conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding and reconciliation processes. She was a university based researcher and professor, has worked for community and civil society organizations, and now she works for the Canadian Federal Public Service. Her PhD looked at the impact of armed conflict on women and the role of women in peacebuilding so she has developed expertise in gender equality efforts and the women, peace and security agenda.

What is special about the inclusion tool that she uses?

The GBA+ framework is an analytical tool all federal public servants must use in their development of policies and programs. In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using GBA+ to advance gender equality in Canada as Gender equality is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada.

“It’s a lens, a way of viewing things, it’s not just a tool or a database with a report,” she said. Cheshmak views policies holistically to determine diverse responses based on different identifying factors. For example, a policy might affect an older caucasian middle class woman living in a rural town differently than a young Middle Eastern man arriving in an urban centre as a student. If an analytical process is not brought in to the decision making, then the policy may have negative impact on some segments of the population. The aim is to develop policies and programs that are positively impactful and meaningful to as many people as you can.

How does it work and how can we apply it?

The GBA+ framework tells you the questions to ask. It looks at how local people understand and experience the world and how the policy they create can have a sustainable solution.

In order for the framework to be effective, it’s important to understand our own unconscious bias. What if you turned the camera on yourself? What would you look like on paper through a socio-economic, ethnic, religious, age-based, geographic lens? What stereotypes do we carry? Did you know that there are a lot of women in terrorist organizations? If we only see them as victims, what are the implications?

Recommended resources:

Cheshmak recommends the following:

The best way to understand the framework is to read about it > here <

For an interesting article on gender she recommends “ Are women happier then men? Do gender rights make a difference?

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