Item 2: Impact of multiple and intersecting forms of Discrimination
ITEM 2 – Impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls.
Fiji thanks the Office of the High Commissioner for its report which analyses the ways in which several grounds of discrimination intersect, and the impact they have on the full realisation of women’s and girls’ human rights.
It is evident that the way discrimination translates itself is different between men, and women and girls. Significantly, women and girls often experience negative stereotypes on combined grounds such as ethnicity, race, colour, health and marital status in addition to gender. Although the source of discrimination may be the same for both men and women, the way in which such discrimination translates itself for women and girls is unique because of the fluid nature of how stereotypes work, coupled with the intersecting gender experiences faced by women and girls.
However, whilst the person discriminated against recognises the discrimination, there is a struggle to obtain redress. This because it is usually difficult to identify behaviour as discrimination precisely because it comes from multiple sources. Courts of law and anti- discrimination commission’s struggle to understand why a person seeks to allege discrimination when ethnicity, disability and gender might combine to create a single negative stereotype. If stigma and negative stereotyping provide the basis for discrimination claims, then unravelling those stereotypes for the courts, is challenging.
We acknowledge that this challenge may be fuelled by the lack of legislation which provides for discrimination claims to be made on more than one ground, or on no one ground, and by the lack of case law and thus a lack of interpretation and guidance on how to deal with claims on multiple grounds. However, be that as it may, it is imperative that an intersectional approach is used by all involved, including by judiciaries.
Mr President, on this ground we welcome the recommendations in the report, and concur that systematic and continuous efforts must be made to sensitize and build the capacity of professional categories, including the judiciary, the police, border guards, health and educational personnel, the public administration, and employers, to address attitudes and stereotypes, to develop an understanding of the intersecting forms of discrimination and violence affecting women and girls, and to apply a rights based and gender and culturally sensitive methods.
Thank you Mr President.