Intersectionality in international anti-discrimination law – addressing poverty in its complexity

The concept of intersectionality has been progressively incorporated into international anti-discrimination law. This article considers the nature of this incorporation and the different understandings of the term and related concepts by United Nations’ treaty body committees. It discusses the importance of intersectionality within a substantive equality framework in challenging poverty that is often complex in nature. This is illustrated with examples from the field of social security in India, Australia and South Africa as they concern issues of race, gender, caste and class. The article suggests the need for a clear conception of intersectionality embedded within a substantive approach to equality and for greater uniformity of this equality framework across the human rights treaty system.


Dr Beth Goldblatt is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, a Visiting Fellow of the Australian Human Rights Centre at UNSW Law and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Publish Date: 
November, 2015
Publication title: 
AJHR 21-1
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