Women’s Human Rights: From Progress to Transformation (An Intersectional Response to Nussbaum)

This article asks ‘the intersectional question’ about women’s progress. The purpose is to understand whether the successes of the women’s movement and women’s human rights have improved the conditions of women who are disadvantaged not only because of their sex or gender but also disadvantaged by their race, colour, caste, religion, region, disability, age, sexual orientation, etc. It takes its cue from an account of the matter laid out by Martha Nussbaum. I contend that Nussbaum’s view of women’s progress, especially under CEDAW, does not consider the substantive and strategic implications of intersectionality and thus is not transformative in nature, say in respect of a group like Dalit women. The article proposes a normative vision of women’s progress which is intersectional such that it reflects and improves the lives of all women in the specific ways in which they are affected by multiple and overlapping systems of disadvantage and in turn subverts and transforms these systems.

The Gender of Islamophobia: Intersectional Discrimination and the 'Islamic Headscarves' Jurisprudence

Rising Islamophobia in public discourses on national identity, immigration and terrorism has made religious discrimination a pressing issue, often crystallising around the headscarf question. Women wearing Islamic veils regularly confront sexist and racist stereotypes, entangled with culturo-religious animosity. This form of intersectional discrimination has however not been challenged by courts. The US landmark case Abercrombie & Fitch (2015) and the two CJEU headscarf cases Achbita and Bougnaoui (2017) were framed as religious discrimination solely, ignoring the racial and gender aspects. Using intersectionality as a framework, this paper deconstructs the concept of religious neutrality operating in these decisions and argues that despite different outcomes, they fail to unmask and redress (1) the racialisation of Islam in public rhetoric; (2) the conflation of religious neutrality and cultural hostility; (3) the oppressive effects of these discourses on women’s bodies and autonomy.

The Multiple Layers of Romaphobia: Intersectional vs. Constructivist Readings of Discrimination

‘Reasonable anti-Gypsyism’ in the EU rests in practices and measures designed to conceal discriminatory intent. Political discourse portrays the Roma as a threat to public security and welfare, and ultimately to EU integration. Anti-Gypsyism can be conceptualized as intersectional discrimination against Roma subgroups based on a combination of grounds, such as race or ethnicity, nationality, migration status, language, religion or socio-economic status. Today, the relatively few grounds in EU equality law cannot accommodate all the identity facets relevant for the Roma, but an analysis of how the Roma are constructed as a subject of discrimination can yield a thick interpretation as in CHEZ (C-83/14). Still, academic debate prioritizes intersectional perspectives advanced by other identity groups vis-a-vis, rather than with or for, the Roma. This paper debunks futile intersectionality that impedes, rather than facilitates, coalition-building needed to reform EU anti-discrimination law.

The Paradox of Intersectionality in Europe

The theory of intersectional discrimination arose to highlight the legal subjectivity of black women through centralisation of the specific discrimination they endured at work and elsewhere. Although designed to give political voice to this group of workers who were eclipsed in discrimination law, the breadth of the intersectional vision was not limited to these women. However, as the theory has travelled to places in Europe where the idea of race is taboo, such as Germany, it has been conflated with ‘multiple discrimination’. This has serious consequences for the theory as well as for black women: if race is rejected, intersectionality continues to marginalize the very women it was designed to protect and beyond this, if intersectionality is conflated with multiple discrimination, it loses its value. This paper explores marginalization, its consequences, as well as a solution to centre the experiences of black women in anti-discrimination law in Europe.