Fatima van Hattum and Sarah Ghiorse
What does it mean to work towards gender justice in a time when political leaders on the national and state levels are actively defunding programs and services critical to women and communities most impacted by structural inequities? Over the past year, NewMexicoWomen.Org (NMW.O), along with a team from University of New Mexico, engaged with women and communities around the state in dialogues on this topic. This month we will publish the results in a two-part report titled The Heart of Gender Justice in New Mexico: Intersectionality, Economic Security and Health Equity.
Perhaps the most important theme of the research is that social determinants matter. The health and economic well-being of women and girls in New Mexico is shaped by social determinants, or in other words, “where and how women and girls live, work, learn, pray and play.”1 Participants in the project emphasized the critical role and significant impact that historical trauma and colonization, patriarchy and structural racism, have on their well-being.
Another key finding is that the impacts of social determinants on diverse communities of women are best understood using an intersectional feminist lens (see the Layers of Intersectionality diagram). This means moving beyond strictly gender to consider the influence that other social factors such as race, class, ability, sexuality, religion, age and environment have on one’s lived experiences. Intersectionality takes into account the multitude of identities that women and girls in New Mexico navigate—from issues of race and class to histories of colonization—and demands that we honor the various structures and systems that shape the realities of women’s and girls’ lives.2,3 Ultimately, an intersectional feminist view allows communities and individuals to articulate the multiple aspects of identity and experience that both enrich their health, economic opportunities and lives, as well as potentially challenge and complicate them.
In light of the research findings and in answer to our question above, to work meaningfully on gender justice means acknowledging that race, class, history, immigration status, nativity, sexual identity and the environment have enormous inextricable effects on the health outcomes and quality of life for women, girls and communities in New Mexico. Indeed, the feedback and stories from communities found throughout the reports illustrate this relationship. The objective of this research is to provide a knowledge base of community expertise and experience that can be used to advance meaningful change in the lives of women and girls across the state.
To learn more about this research and the work of NewMexicoWomen.Org, join us from June 5-9 for “Five Days of Gender Justice,” a campaign to launch this report and discuss the meaning of gender justice with community members across New Mexico. Launch updates and news will be on our Facebook, Instagram and website, with appearances to be announced on several radio and TV channels.
To download the full report, visit: www.newmexicowomen.org/resources/executive-summary-2017/
NewMexicoWomen.Org (NMW.O), a program of New Mexico Community Foundation, is the only fund of its kind in the state working to advance opportunities for women and girls so they can lead self-sufficient, healthy and empowered lives. NMW.O pursues its mission via a three-pronged strategy: to educate, lead and invest.
Sarah Ghiorse is the program director of NewMexicoWomen.Org. She has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and an M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Fatima van Hattum is the program manager of NewMexicoWomen.Org. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies at University of New Mexico and has a background in gender, labor rights and international development.
1 Michael Marmot et al., “Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health,” The Lancet 372, no. 9650 (Nov. 8, 2008):1661–1669.
2 Collins, P.H. & Bilge, S. Intersectionality. Polty Press, Cambrige, UK; 2016.
3 Hankivisky O. Introduction to the Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis Framework. Paper presented at: International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012.