How Do We Make the Fight for Gender Equality More Inclusive? Holding Space for Non-Binary and LGBT Individuals in the Women’s Rights Movement


“Engaging women is the key to sustainable peace.” – Soon-Young Yoon, International Alliance of Women

Focusing on women and their capacity to initiate and maintain peace in their family, communities and around the world is crucial to achieving lasting peace. During the latest NGO CSW monthly meeting, Soon Young-Yoon, the creator and leader of the Feminist and Women’s Movement Action Plan, mentioned the importance of “breaking the silos” surrounding global peacemaking and advocacy: in order to combat violence against women and advance gender equality, other factors such as access to economic opportunity and quality education must also be considered to ensure that women can fully exercise their rights. Women’s issues also overlap with climate change, economic development, national security and the dismantling of prejudice in today’s world. Many of the issues plaguing the global community are intersectional; thus, our approach to solving them must also be multi-dimensional and holistic. Sustainable advocacy must be both bottom-up and top-down; not only must there be more women in high-level positions of power affecting national policy and legislation, but grassroots campaigns and community movements must work together and also engage in local and state governments as well, such as the work being done by Cities for CEDAW

In preparation for the 64th Commission on the Status of Women next month, NGO CSW is leading an ongoing conversation amongst civil society organizations at the United Nations on how to create more inclusive spaces to discuss women’s rights and gender equality. As part of this process, it is imperative to consider how non-binary and LGBTQ individuals contribute to these spaces and the discussion on women’s rights. Many NGO representatives agree that advocacy for women’s rights is advocacy for human rights, therefore respect for gender self-identification is intrinsically part of the fight for equal rights for women and for all.

LGBTQ and non-binary individuals meaningfully contribute to the problem-solving conversations on women’s rights and deserve to share their experiences in order to broaden the dialogue and create a more comprehensive plan of action. Women’s rights advocacy is centered around the principle of human rights for all; acknowledging and holding space for those who have been marginalized or formerly excluded from the women’s movement is an essential part of what it means to be a feminist or an advocate for women. Advocacy for women is not advocacy for some women; upholding these principles of inclusion reflects the UN mandate to “leave no one behind.” As part of a network of organizations working in conjunction with the United Nations, it is important to continually expand our notion of inclusivity in the movement for gender equality and consider all those whose rights are being limited under patriarchal systems of oppression.

At Intersections International, our work stretches across differences and borders in order to unite, empower and engage individuals of all backgrounds to come together to tackle issues such as inequality and prejudice. By engaging in these conversations at the United Nations, we are not only expanding the global capacity of our ministry, we are also contributing new perspectives to the women’s movement and global peacemaking initiatives to ensure that the most urgent needs of women and marginalized groups are being met with urgency, dignity and empathy