HEAR Intersectionality Research Report

Posted on 19 June 2014

This fascinating research looks at the impact on a person's life of having multiple protected characteristics and presents case studies of VCS organisations in London that are working in this area, which is called intersectionality.

The research is funded by London Councils through the London for All project.

HEAR, the equalities and human rights network for London, launched the results of its Intersections research on 25th June 2014.

CAIA Micro Rainbow IARS

Photos: Centre for Armenian Information and Advice, Micro Rainbow, Independent Academic Research Studies


As a network of mostly specialist equalities organisations, HEAR does not seek to work on single equalities issues, because its members are the experts, but HEAR works across all equalities strands on issues that impact on all groups and populations in London that may experience marginalisation, discrimination or denial of human rights.

HEAR and its member organisations wanted to create a resource that would:

  • Showcase the work of London voluntary organisations and community groups large and small that seeks to support Londoners with intersecting aspects to their identity or experience
  • Examine both the more theoretical and policy based aspects of intersectionality and the everyday real lives of Londoners and the organisations that work with and support them
  • Generate more debate and action around intersectional issues and promote an intersectional approach across both the voluntary and public sector


Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement image Nigerian Org.for Women Mobility Help

Photos: Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Nigerian Org. for Women, Mobility Help

What is Intersectionality?

By intersectionality we mean people's identities and social positions being shaped by several factors at the same time, creating unique experiences and perspectives. These factors include among others sexuality, gender identity, race, disability, age, class, nationality, and faith. These identities and experiences can be changing and contradictory.

Intersectionality is a concept that can be used when thinking about complex social positions and identities. This might include thinking about identity and lived experiences of inequality or representation in art and media.

The concept of intersectionality holds that, for instance, one is not a lesbian and disabled, rather one is the combination of these at the same time, i.e. a disabled lesbian. These different elements form and inform each other. In this example one's identity as a lesbian is formed by one's identity as disabled, and vice versa; the two elements of identity cannot be separated, are not lived or experienced as separate.

What is in the report?

Executive summary and common themes

Intersectionality literature review focused work produced by London's voluntary sector (contributed by Centred)

A discussion on intersectionality in the context of equalities legislation and human rights

There are also 14 individual reports contributed by HEAR member organisations (see below). Each of the reports is unique and although contributing groups were all asked to answer the same questions, they all went about this task in their own individual way, as they saw most relevant to explain their own work and the lives of the Londoners they work with

What did we ask?

  • How do the relevant characteristics (individual to each case, for example race and disability) impact on the individual when it comes to accessing services, life opportunities and facing discrimination?
  • How do support organisations work on these issues, what are the challenges and what are examples of good practice?
  • What wider social policy or legislative issues are currently having an impact?

Below is a list of contributing organisations and the main intersectional focus of their contribution. All contributions have been authored by the organisation concerned:

Age UK London (older Muslim women) Centre for Armenian Information and Advice (older and disabled people in the Armenian community and carers)Domestic Violence Intervention Project (domestic and gender based violence in the Arabic speaking population) Faiths Forum for London (faith and disability)Galop (sexual orientation and its intersection with mental health and disability, older age, religion and culture)Harrow Equalities Centre (intersectional aspects of hate crime) IARS (women refugees and access to legal and health services) Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (faith and sexual orientation)Micro Rainbow (sexual orientation and its intersection with poverty and the refugee experience) and Micro Rainbow individual caseMigrant and Refugee Communities Forum (the migrant experience and mental health) and an individual story and references Mobility Help (Disability and people of African heritage in London) Nigerian Organisation of Women (older Nigerian women in London). This contribution is the result of field research with individual Nigerian women in North London to capture their experiences of using social care and other statutory services as Nigerian women. Refugees in Effective and Active Partnerships (young and unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers) Roma Support Group (Roma children) and an individual story

For more information about this project contact the HEAR Network Coordinator hear@reap.org.uk.

If you need any of the documents in other formats please contact hear@reap.org.uk.