Missing Intersectionality

This paper presents the situation of Romani women, discusses and analyzes relevant research and policy efforts in recent years, and offers recommendations for more responsive, effective policymaking. Unpacking the complexity of multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination, the paper integrates the author’s personal experiences as an activist for Roma rights, a scholar, a feminist, and a Romani woman with a range of theoretical literature and policy-oriented studies on development, discrimination, gender, vulnerable populations, and the Roma as a specific social group. Particular attention is given to research and policies from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) that claim to have included an awareness of the specific situation of Romani women both in the analysis of policy problems and in the design of solutions to these problems. Efforts of major international actors that deal with issues of social inclusion, minority groups, gender, and Roma in particular are evaluated. Presenting evidence that supports the view that Romani women experience multiple inequalities, the paper shows the need for specific measures to address intersectional discrimination. Existing anti-discrimination policies are not sufficient to address various forms of intersecting inequalities in social policies. The author explores if and how an awareness of the specificity and complexity of the situation of Romani women has permeated the existing policy discourse on Romani women, and shows that, despite some recognition of the specific situation of Romani women, there still has been no significant shift in policy debates that would indicate the integration of an intersectional understanding of Romani women’s social position into policy-making. The paper concludes with some general guidelines for using an intersectional approach in policy research and policy-making, including a discussion of intersectional methodology.