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Applying an intersectional approach

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An intersectional analysis based upon a two-pronged approach has been suggested by Professors Aylward, Pothier, and Iyer. It requires a shift from a single ground perspective to an analysis based on the assumption that an individual’s experiences are based on multiple identities that can be linked to more than one ground of discrimination. The second component of the two-pronged model requires the analysis to proceed to consider contextual factors, based on the facts of the case. According to Aylward, a contextual analysis means examining the discriminatory stereotypes; the purpose of the legislation, regulation or policy; the nature of and / or situation of the individual at issue, and the social, political and legal history of the person’s treatment in society.

An intersectional analysis can be informed by developments in gender equality analysis, critical race analysis, disability rights analysis and equality rights jurisprudence. These strategies have developed to address the stereotypes, as well as the unique and intersecting experiences of individuals, because of race or gender or disability and would form a necessary part of the contextual and analytical framework. An intersectional analysis can become one of the lenses through which the social context of the individual can be examined. In some measure, it can address social conditions relating to poverty, low income and homelessness.

In some cases, grounds such as sex, race, or disability, to name just a few, may intersect and together produce unique effects creating “discreet and insular minorities” who are socially handicapped because of these characteristics. At other times, any one of these characteristics may intersect with other grounds such as social assistance, family status and further link to economic and social and class status to create unique experiences for the individuals that are ignored in the current human rights framework. Even when combined with other grounds such as social assistance and family status, the extent of the discrimination may not be revealed by a traditional, non-intersectional approach.

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