Beyond One Size Fits All A Critical Discourse Analysis of the United Nations Gender Equality Manuals Through an Intersectional Lens

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In 2015 the UN created the 17 SDG’s, one of which being gender equality. Based on this goal, multiple manuals and toolkits have been written to guide the UN system to achieve gender equality. However, they have not been subject to an intersectional analysis. Aiming to fill this gap, I analyzed three gender equality manuals produced by the UN using critical discourse analysis to find out what they tell us about their intersectionality. The analysis showed that while the manuals state they use an intersectional approach, and include intersectional identities at times, the language employed in the manuals does not always reflect this commitment. Gender is still often seen as a binary, and while at times differences between women are acknowledged, there are still instances where gender is assumed to be a universal experience. When diversity is explicitly mentioned, it is either used to ignore inequalities by using an all-encompassing term or as a way of othering. This can be linked back to ideologies of white liberal feminism, white supremacy, and white savior complex. The implication of this is that intersecting identities are insufficiently addressed, and through inequality regimes within the UN inequalities based on intersecting identities are created.
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