Investing in Intersectionality
We talk a lot about investing in women, but one issue that is often neglected—or not even identified—in discussions about gender equality is intersectionality. First coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is the idea that different systems of oppression interact. Basically, different types of oppression come as a package deal for an individual facing them. For example, white women face many obstacles and disadvantages compared with men, but black women face marginalization from both racial and gender-based discrimination—and are therefore likely to be disadvantaged even more than white women. Intersectionality acknowledges both the fact that traits like sex, gender, race, nationality, disability, orientation, class, age and other factors all affect a person's opportunities or obstacles in life; as well as the fact that discrimination happens through the combination of and relationship between these various identities, and the systems that oppress individuals belonging to them.
While we're talking about getting more women on boards and in the C-Suite, while we're advocating for women and girls around the world, and while we're celebrating women's successes every day; it's important to remember that women's empowerment is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor—and our discussions, as well as our investments, need to reflect that.
As soon as you start looking for examples, intersections become obvious. From the challenge black women face in the tech industry, to the high violence rates faced by aboriginal women or transgender women (and particularly transgender women of color), to the poverty and class stagnation faced by women from lower-class backgrounds; women's rights are tied to so many other rights.
Think of it this way: The problem of women's disenfranchisement around the world, from boardrooms and venture capital to politics and social movements, has been a failure of inclusion. Does it really make sense, now, to turn a blind eye to the inclusion of people of different races, orientations, nations, religions, beliefs, ages, abilities or other categories? In addition to a moral failure, we fail to consistently combat the root of the problem as it's existed for women for millennia. Inclusion needs to be intentional, and it needs to be intersectional.
As with anything, access to capital and education is crucial in the fight for equality, and that goes double (or triple, or more) for women facing enforced status quos, discrimination, cultural obstacles and more.
That's why we try to stay vigilant to fight for and celebrate women—of all kinds, in all places, facing all situations—at Women Investing in Women Digital. We plan to discuss specific investing and entrepreneurship opportunities as they relate to intersectionality and various communities in the near future, and we thank you for adding your own diverse voices to our growing conversation, and if you'd like to learn more about just a few intersectional efforts, see below for just a few intersectional organizations you might want to follow and support.
Investing in Intersectionality
Digital Undivided: An accelerator and outreach program supporting startups led by black and Latina women.
Women Enabled International: An advocacy and education group promoting and protecting the rights of all women and girls, especially those with disabilities.
GLAAD: A communications hub, media outreach effort, support network and more promoting understanding and rights for all LGBTQ individuals, including women.
Women's Refugee Commission: An international organization working to protect and empower refugee women and girls.
American Civil Liberties Union: A nonprofit organization that uses lobbying, education and the law to defend poor people, individuals from marginalized communities, minorities facing harassment, women facing gender-based violence or discrimination, women seeking reproductive health care and many more. They also fight for equal economic opportunities for women.
Disability Visibility Project: An online community dedicated to "recording, amplifying and sharing disability stories and culture."
Asian Women in Business: A nonprofit organization supporting Asian women entrepreneurs and professionals.