Intersectional feminism in a Covid-19 world

As we navigate our way through this Covid-19 world, through police brutality and governmental indifference, it is easy to see our struggles as wholly personal. That we are islands, connected by bridges of masks and face time calls. That the oppressions we feel are burdens we share only when the pressure gets too great. In our isolation we see the world through text messages, snatched electronic conversation, and social media, missing the connectivity that helps better make sense of who we are.

We rise up in protest, in solidarity with women of colour, with queer and trans women, and stand by their side in person and online. In doing so we seek to make the world a better place, one footstep, one chant, one patient conversation at a time. Through it all we stand as women, proud, striving to better understand both ourselves and the interconnections we have with the women within our communities.

Some may argue that we are simply human, simply women, and we need to look past identities to unities in common cause. If you have power and privilege that is easy to do, as your platform is secure and your voice will be heard. By treating all women as equal and a collective whole there can potentially be solidarity, an equality built on the backs of the privileged few permitted to speak by the media. Yet this is not equity, for while all women may be uplifted over time, women at the margins, whose voices are left in the shadows, are further disenfranchised. This is where intersectional feminism comes in, that understanding that identity is not just one thing, and that women are far more than a reductive idea of womanhood.

When it comes to intersectional feminism it is hard to break down the understanding that while we are united in struggle, to bring equity to this fight we must uplift and enable all women to have their own voice and not speak for them. Privilege and power are often unconscious, as we simply accept who we are as women without really questioning our identities. Who likes to dig deeply at their own assumptions and place in life? It is a challenge to break down our own understanding of who we are in order to step aside and allow voices long disadvantaged and ignored to come to the fore.

It is easy to say that I know myself, and therefore what do I have to worry about. On a personal level I am white, middle class, grammar school and university educated, have never been arrested, and I am an English speaking British citizen. Each part of that sentence freights privilege and power. In combination they represent something of the apex of power and privilege in 21st Century Britain. Yet, I am also queer, trans, 38, have total alopecia, am an atheist, muscle/overweight, a discharged bankrupt, and a woman. On their own each of those labels strips back a portion of power and privilege, and in combination intersect to make things interesting. By no means has my personal power or privilege truly suffered because of the totality of my identity, I am very fortunate in living a life with a high degree of privilege. My intersectional identity is complex and nuanced, as is yours.

The intersection of identities complicates and unites women, as on the one hand it is easy to find an intersection with another woman’s identity you can empathise and relate to – even on the most basic level you are both women. Yet the hard work is done in understanding how your own power and privilege intersects with other women’s intersections, and that while you can empathise you cannot speak for her. Her voice must be her own, as must yours. Every women must be empowered to speak, to be uplifted by us all. Where our power and privilege collide with her intersectional identity, we take a step back into the shadows and let her shine.

Equity is about uplifting and empowering, acknowledging that rights are not a cake that is sliced up into proportional parts, but like the sea, where the surfit of rights enjoyed by some is empowered every time we uplift those whose rights have lagged behind. Rights are not gold dust that scatters into the wind if we share. No, by opening rights up to everyone in equity we create a society that is strong and empowered. Hannah Arendt talks about the right to have rights, the right to be a citizen of a society, and the duty of all citizens to ensure that there is no backsliding of rights for any member of society. In the current political climate it is easy to forget this, that rights have to be fought for and fought to be retained, that we as women must fight to both uplift all women and ensure that all women’s rights are not eroded.

Your fight is our battle, your struggle our burden. Intersectional feminism empowers all of us by acknowledging where power and privilege lies, and by ensuring that we can, in lockstep, ensure that all voices are accounted for in our battle for rights and our battle to protect rights. You, your voice uplifted, are power, and it is our shared privilege that ensures our collective strength is through unity and not in isolation. By you a woman of colour, queer, trans, mother, elder, young, disabled, sexual abuse survivor, non-English speaker, asylum seeker, Hijabi, or any myriad other intersection of wonderful womanhood, your identity is valid and wanted, for your intersectional identity stands next to mine. Your voice is powerful, and has every right to be heard. Together, by march, or post, or Facetime, or other connective methods, we strengthen each other, speak out against injustice, and empower women.

In the end, the struggle for rights can only be achieved if we lift up those voices marginalised and left behind. By understanding how our own intersectional identities converge with the women around us, we enable and ennoble each other to work together. We are far stronger together, far richer when we understand that ‘women’ is not just the voice of the privileged or powerful, but cuts across as many intersections as there are amazing women on the planet. Your struggle may be your own, and in this Covid-19 age you may feel isolated and alone, but in sharing it and understanding where your intersections are with the wider struggle, your identity is affirmed, empowered, and uplifted. This is why intersectional feminism matters, because it bonds us together in this broad tapestry of womanhood without erasing what makes each of us unique and powerful.

 

 

 


Thank you so much to Rachel Saunders for writing us this fantastic piece. You can click here to read Rachel’s other work on Medium.


We’re hiring! Caseworkers; Marketing and Communications Officer; Activities, Courses and Events Co-ordinator Vacancies

We’re expecting a surge in demand from September here at Nottingham Women’s Centre, so we are recruiting for a number of temporary posts to ensure that we have the capacity to respond. We’re looking for two Navigator Caseworkers, a Marketing and Communications Officer, and an Activities, Courses and Events Coordinator. You can find out more information about each role below.

If you’d like to talk to a member of staff to find out more about Nottingham Women’s Centre before applying please get in touch by emailing [email protected].

All interviews will take place socially distanced or via Zoom.

Navigator Caseworker (x2) – Vacancy Closed


18.5 hours per week, £22,125-23,571 pro rata. Contract initially to 31 March 2021.

Application closing date: 12pm Monday 24th August
Interview date: Saturday 5th September

Nottingham Women’s Centre works to support women no matter what their circumstances are. These roles work with women who may have multiple and complex needs, helping them navigate the services available to them.

These two caseworker roles will work with women from all backgrounds and experiences, so we need people who can build relationships easily and confidently. Candidates will need to have a fair minded approach, be solution focused and empathetic with a positive mindset, and willing to go the extra mile to empower other women.

We are particularly looking to recruit women who are able to speak Arabic, Urdu or another widely spoken second language as well as English.

Marketing and Communications Officer – Vacancy Closed


18.5 hours per week, £20,213 – £21,493 pro rata. Contract initially to 31 March 2021.

Application closing date: 12pm Mon 10th August
Interview date: w/c 17th August

Now more than ever it’s vitally important that we reach out to women who could benefit from the services of Nottingham Women’s Centre or our partner organisations.

This role is responsible for raising the profile of the Centre and other women’s services through effective marketing and communications, including planning and creating content for our website, social media and email newsletter. This exciting role within our External Relations Team will help enable women to reach their full potential, have their voices heard, and campaign for positive change.

Activities, Courses and Events Coordinator – Vacancy Closed


19 hours per week, £22,125 pro rata. Contract initially to 31 March 2021.

Application closing date: 12pm Mon 17th August
Interview date: Thursday 27th August

Courses and activities are a significant part of our offering here at Nottingham Women’s Centre, with around 800 women each year attending sessions ranging from legal advice to comedy workshops and lots in between.

This role is responsible for empowering women by undertaking duties to arrange and support the delivery of courses and activities both at the Centre and online. The post holder will be the point of contact for related enquiries, responsible for ensuring sessions are well run and planning ways to meet the needs of local women through our provision of courses and activities. They will also assist in the organisation and co-ordination of key events such as open days and celebrations.


Nottingham Women’s Centre empowers 2000 women a year through one to one support and 800 through our courses and activities. 30% of these are Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group. We’d like to better represent the women we serve so would encourage women of colour to apply.

For all of these opportunities you will need to support our values which include being feminist, inclusive, responsive and person-centred. Positions are open to all self-identifying women.

Here at Nottingham Women’s Centre we offer a generous amount of leave, opportunities for flexible working, personal development and a supportive working environment that includes access to an employee assistance programme. You will be working from home for at least part of your hours and equipment will be provided to enable this.

If you’d like to talk to a member of staff to find out more about Nottingham Women’s Centre before applying please get in touch by emailing [email protected]. Please send any completed application forms to [email protected].