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“Multiple discrimination” - what are the challenges? . European Academy of Law – 22 nd of September 2009 . Multiple Discrimination - Overview. Notions: multiple discrimination of women Problems with “intersectionality” Challenges in addressing multiple discrimination legally

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multiple discrimination what are the challenges

“Multiple discrimination” - what are the challenges?

European Academy of Law – 22nd of September 2009

multiple discrimination overview
Multiple Discrimination - Overview
  • Notions: multiple discrimination of women
  • Problems with “intersectionality”
  • Challenges in addressing multiple discrimination legally
  • Multiple discrimination of women and the EU
    • EU specific challenges
    • ECJ case law
    • EU legislation
  • Some practical considerations (challenges broken down)
  • Conclusion
multiple discrimination of women
Multiple Discrimination of women


  • Beijing declaration (UN 1995)
  • (The governments affirm their determination) to intensify efforts to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls who face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion or disability or because they are indigenous people.’ (United Nations 1995)




  • ‘Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow into one direction and it may flow into another. If an accident happens at an intersection, it can be caused by cars travelling from any number of directions, and, sometimes, form all of them. Similarly, if a black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination’ (Crenshaw1989, 145)
intersectionality and gender
Intersectionality and Gender

There is no

"essential woman"

There is no uniform

"protected group"

critique of intersectionality
Critique of intersectionality
  • Too complex to offer guidance in practical matters (Squires 2008)
  • Answers to specific problems of common law concepts (Rey Martinez 2008)
  • Danger of submerging demands of gender equality, in particular in EU discourse (Squires 2008, Verloo 2006, Holzleithner 2005)
  • May also strengthen gender equality as most of those affected are women (Schiek 2005)
intersectionality and law
Intersectionality and Law
  • Legal discourse of minor relevance to social change (Conaghan 2009)
  • Advocacy important to bring neglected issues to mind, including intersectionality (Goldberg 2009)
  • Position of intersectional discrimination against women underdeveloped in EU law (Nielsen 2009)
  • GENDERACE project
multiple discrimination challenges for the law
Multiple discrimination – challenges for the law

Many reasons for disadvantage

Law(yers): reduce complexity


concept ?

Add “grounds” ?

Intersections of dis/advantagein each person

multiple discrimination and eu law
Multiple discrimination and EU law
  • ECJ case law
  • EU legislation
  • Policy development
ecj case law
ECJ case law
  • intersectionality neglected
    • Nationality and gender
      • Adoui & Cournaille, Jany et al
    • Gender and disability
      • Coleman
community legislation
Community legislation
  • Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78
    • “women are often the victims of multiple discrimination”
      • Recital 14 Dir 2000/43, Recital 8 Dir 2000/78/EC, but no mention in gender directives
    • Obligation to report on issues of multiple discrimination and gender mainstreaming
      • Article 17 and 19 respectively
  • “gender” Directives:
    • No reference to multiple discrimination
planned legislation
Planned legislation
  • COM 2008 (426)
    • No mention of multiple discrimination
  • EP proposal
    • Full definition (very specific)
    • Obligations to report
proposed definition
Proposed definition
  • Article 1 (…)
  • 2. Multiple discrimination occurs when discrimination is based:
  • (a) on any combination of the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation, or
  • (b) on any one or more of the grounds set out in paragraph 1, and also on the ground of any one or more of
  • (i) sex (in so far as the matter complained of is within the material scope of Directive 2004/113/EC as well as of this Directive),
  • (ii) racial or ethnic origin (in so far as the matter complained of is within the material scope of Directive 2000/43/EC as well as of this Directive), or
  • iii) nationality (in so far as the matter complained of is within the scope of Article 12 of the EC Treaty).
some practical considerations
Some practical considerations
  • Acknowledging multiple discrimination as a phenomenon
  • Responding adequately
  • Preventing multiple discrimination
acknowledging multiple discrimination
Acknowledging multiple discrimination
  • Considering added gendered effects of disadvantage of “other” discrimination
  • Recognising discrimination only experienced by those at the intersections
  • Adequately dealing with justifications
  • Negative examples ECJ case law
  • Positive: Norwegian Equality body headscarf
  • Negative example: Bahl v Law Society
  • Other examples: cosmetic surgery (Sweden)
responding adequately
Responding adequately
  • Adequate damages
    • Positive example: Austrian Legislation
    • Practical examples? Not yet
  • Intermediate action
    • Injunctions
    • Negotiating agreements on future policy
preventing multiple discrimination
Preventing multiple discrimination
  • Positive duties
    • Also to be implemented in legislation
    • Positive examples: Spain and Bulgaria
  • Developing policy concepts
    • Avoiding identity politics
    • Raising awareness of institutional actors
  • Barriers to acknowledging multiple discrimination no necessarily in lack of definition.
  • Purposive interpretation of multidimensional framework would enable to capture the phenomenon
  • Research needed more than legislation
bibliography 1
Bibliography (1)
  • I. Carles(2007) ‘Citizenship and rights: the use of racial anti discrimination laws in a gender perspective’, in: Waaldijk (ed.) Gender and Citizenship in a Multicultural Context Frankfurt 2007, pp. 35-68.
  • A. McColgan (2007) ‘Reconfiguring Discrimination Law’, Public Law (2007) pp. 74‑94.
  • J. Conaghan (2009) ‘Intersectionality and the Feminist Project in Law’ in: Grabham, Cooper, Krishnadas & Herman (eds.) Intersectionality and Beyond. Law Power and the politics of location London and New York 2009. (hereafter: Grabham et al, Intersectionality) pp. 21-48
  • K. Crenshaw (1989) ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’ in: University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989 pp. 137-167.
  • S. Fredman (2009) ‘Positive rights and positive duties: Addressing intersectionality’ in: D. Schiek & V. Chege (eds.) European Union Non-Discrimination Law. Comparative Perspectives on Multidimensional Equality law London and New York 2009 (Hereafter: Schiek & Chege, EU Non-Discrimination Law). pp. 73-89
bibliography 2
Bibliography (2)
  • J. Gerards (2007) ‘Discrimination Grounds’ in: D. Schiek, L. Waddington & M. Bell (eds.) Cases, Materials and Text on National, Supranational and International Non-Discrimination Law (Ius Commune Casebooks for the common law of Europe) Oxford and Portland 2007 (hereafter: Schiek et al (eds) Non-Discrimination Law Casebook) pp. 33-184
  • S.B. Goldberg (2009) ‘Intersectionality in theory and practice’, in: Grabham et al , Intersectionality pp. 124-158
  • B. Hepple (2004) ‘Race and Law in Fortress Europe’, 67 Modern Law Review (2004) pp. 1‑25.
  • E. Holzleithner (2005) ‘Mainstreaming Equality : Dis/Entangling Grounds of Discrimination’, 14 Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems (2005) pp. 926-56.
  • R. Hunter & T. de Simone (2009) ‘Identifying disadvantage: beyond intersectionality’ in: Grabham et al (eds) Intersectionality and beyond, pp. 159-182
  • L. McCall (2009)‘The Complexity of Intersectionality’ in: Grabham et al Intersectionality pp. 49-76
bibliography 3
Bibliography (3)
  • T.M. Makkonen (2002) Compound and Intersectional Discrimination: Bringing the Experiences of the Most Marginalized to the Fore Åbo Akademy University 2002.
  • H. Meenan (2007) ‘Introduction’ in: Meenan (ed.) Equality Law in an Enlarged European Union pp. 3-37 Cambridge 2007.*
  • K. Monaghan (2007) Equality Law Oxford
  • R. Nielsen (2009) ‘Is European Union equality law capable of addressing multiple and intersectional discrimination yet? Precautions against neglecting intersectional cases’ in: Schiek & Chege (eds.) EU Non-Discrimination Law pp. 31-51
  • R. Rey Martinez (2008) ‘La discriminación multiple, una realidad Antigua, un concepto nuevo’, Revista Española de Derecho Constitutional (2008, un. 84).
  • D. Schiek (2005) ‘Broadening the Scope an the Norms of EU Gender Equality Law: Towards a Multidimensional Conception of Equality Law’, 12 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law (2005), pp. 427-466.
bibliography 4
Bibliography (4)
  • D. Schiek (2009) ‘From European Union non-discrimination law towards multidimensional equality law for Europe’ in: Schiek & Chege (eds.) EU Non-Discrimination Law. pp. 3-28
  • D. Schiek et al. ‘A Comparative Perspective on Non-Discrimination Law’ in: Schiek et al (eds) Non-Discrimination Law Case Book, 15-27
  • J. Squires (2008) ‘Intersecting Inequalities: reflecting on the subjects and objects of equality’, 79 Political Quarterly (2008) pp.53-61
  • United Nations (1995) Beijing Declaration (‌beijingd.htm)
bibliography 424
Bibliography (4)
  • M. Verloo (2006) ‘Multiple Identities, Intersectionality and the European Union’, 13 European Journal of Women’s Studies (2006) pp. 211-228.
  • U. Vieten (2009) ‘Intersectionality scope and multidimensional equality within the European Union: traversing the national boundaries of inequality?’ in: Schiek & Chege (eds.) EU Non-Discrimination Law. pp. 93-135
  • N. Yuval-Davis (2006), ‘Intersectionality and Feminist Politics’, 13 European Journal of Women’s Studies (2006) pp. 193-209.
  • N. Yuval-Davis (2007) ‘Intersectionality, Citizenship and Contemporary Politics of Belonging 10 Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2007) pp. 561-574.