Many of us want to contribute to lasting, transformative change when dealing with those collectives most impacted by all kind of inequalities. This is why, after months of sustained dedication and effort, a mixed team of researchers and practitioners gave birth to Oxfam’s and LSE’s Multidimensional Inequality Framework (MIF), a unique lens to analyse inequalities in diverse domains of life, based on Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach.
Yet, after piloting the tool in diverse contexts and geographies, and after conducting a reflective and learning exercise, many users expressed the need to have a bolder, feminist approach when trying to understand inequalities. In fact, we all know that gender and any other sort of inequalities experienced in our lives are linked and mutually reinforcing. As the feminist, lesbian, black activist Audre Lorde reminded us: “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives”. Thus, we must ground our action in analyses that address multiple and overlapping structural oppressions, paying attention to these intersecting forces, and work to end them simultaneously. For all these reasons, we have explored how a research feminist companion of the MIF could help us to unpack intersections of inequalities with a feminist approach.
This guide has been designed thinking of any research or practitioners’ team interested in piloting the MIF with a feminist perspective, both when framing and implementing the research process but also when conducting the analysis itself. The companion does not give a silver bullet solution, but rather stimulates the reader to approach its research process with a critical perspective, by providing key guiding questions, practical tools, guidance and tips. Furthermore, if you don’t have a strong background on gender justice, the guide defines what we mean by a feminist approach and explains its political and practical implications.
But, why is this relevant? Strengthening a gender analysis perspective within the MIF is key to truly unpack how an intersectional approach to inequalities looks like and what it implies. Even if the MIF includes some sub-domains, indicators and measures that focus specifically on aspects of gender inequality, having a feminist analysis out of it does not come as an automatic result. The way we weave and ‘make sense’ of each domain’s possibilities, must be oriented in a way that help us to address gender as an analytical category, and not merely as a variable of disaggregation. This is what this companion guide tries to do.
In fact, the story that will emerge from such analysis will go beyond what a standard piloting of the MIF does, by revealing how overlapping structural oppressions— on the basis of age, race, class, caste, sexuality, marital status, diverse abilities or any other characteristic-, configure and explain unique experiences of inequalities in diverse domains of life. This may contribute to help campaigning teams building a feminist narrative on inequalities: their connections, causes and potential solutions in a given context.
We are very aware that it’s not only the analysis that matters, but also how the process itself is built. The MIF Feminist companion can help you build a Feminist Inequality Journey by suggesting key tips to approach the different steps of the research cycle with a feminist lens. This will have an impact in the way your research questions are framed, what type of partners are involved and how, what is your “basket of methods” and epistemologies chosen, or how you disseminate and make your findings collectively held.
Finally, we want to remember that the personal is political. This is why the guide will give you the chance to evaluate yourself and your team to reflect on how to observe and further develop Oxfam’s Feminist Principles. Power sharing, nothing about us without us or putting care at the heart of all what we do, are some of the principles you can keep track of.
Are you ready to start your Feminist Inequality Journey?