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Unease over intersectionality | The March 8 Collective emerges disappointed from its meeting with Minister Martine Biron



(Quebec) The Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Martine Biron, refuses to recognize and name intersectionality, in addition to “closing up” when the time comes to talk about concrete measures for women.

This is the observation made by the Collectif 8 mars, which notably includes 17 regional consultation tables on the status of women. Its members left disappointed with their one-hour meeting with Mme Biron last Thursday.

In a press release, the collective regretted the “tone” of the minister, “not conducive to constructive exchanges to improve the living conditions of all women”.

On the contrary, the meeting was completely “constructive”, replies the minister. Discussions focused in particular on the quality of public services, the right to housing and discrimination in the labor market.

“The meeting with the 8 March Collective was an opportunity for me to learn about their demands on many subjects,” said Biron in a written statement sent to The Canadian Press.

“We have a common goal: equality between men and women. It is by rallying all the feminists of Quebec that we will achieve this,” she added.

Intersectionality: “great malaise”

Regarding intersectionality, the collective says it perceived a “great unease” in the minister.

“(She) never named the word, lamented in an interview the collective’s co-spokesperson, Karine Drolet. She says that women go through different situations, […], but does not name intersectionality. »

Intersectionality generally refers to the intersections between different systems of discrimination. We are thinking of immigrant, aboriginal, senior, handicapped and/or poor women.

Québec solidaire (QS) pointed out in the House last week that the word intersectionality nevertheless appears in several official government documents.

This concept is an integral part, for example, of the 2022-2027 government strategy to counter sexual violence and domestic violence in Quebec.

“The intersections between different systems of discrimination place some women in contexts of heightened vulnerability to sexual violence and domestic violence,” the strategy reads.

Mme Drolet draws a parallel with systemic racism, which the Legault government refuses to name.

“It is certain that to recognize it and to name it, it will somehow force the government to take actions that are in line with what it says,” she analyzes.

“We feel that there is great discomfort with the minister, her response to (intersectionality). We feel that it does not necessarily come from her alone, but it is an issue for the entire government and the Prime Minister. »

The concept of intersectionality sparked a debate at the end of February in the National Assembly.

QS had tabled a motion at the Blue Room encouraging “gender-based analysis from an intersectional perspective in order to defend the rights of all women in Quebec”.

The party obtained the support of the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois, but not of the Coalition avenir Québec.

Mme Drolet is nevertheless delighted that we are talking about intersectionality; she promises that the collective will not “let go of the piece” and will continue to “hit the nail”.

The collective also wants the Secretariat for the Status of Women, for which Biron, become a ministry, which would give the minister more “weight” around the cabinet table.

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