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How do you think governments in Australia and the ASEAN region can develop effective public policy that acknowledges and celebrates intersectionality?
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In my opinion, law and society must come together to address intersectionality. First, law is an important element to entitle everyone with fundamental human rights and liberties as human. With legal recognition, everyone is respected and protected by law because the state as a duty bearer is accountable to us as a rights holder. However, legal element without social acceptance is not enough. We need society to understand intersectionality in diversity. Empathy is the ability to understand others must be there to ensure that we treat others with dignity. Therefore, education is the main priority for every community to nurture peace within and between different groups of people.
The term 'intersectional policy' requires further elaboration. What I infer from this is 'intersectional' referring to the suffering of discrimination by virtue of two or more immutable characteristics. Policy in this regard infers mechanisms that prevent, protect and ensure appropriately functioning accountability mechanisms. In this regard, the sine qua non of drafting any intersectional policy is active and conscious consultation with those who are the target demographic of said policy. For example, lets take the magnus opus of disability international policy, the 2017 UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, having mandated the consultation with those with a disability in drafting this document to better reflect the lived experience and daily realities of those with a disability. The benefits of such policy thereby flow directly to the general public, and are more efficacious in identifying nuanced areas that would be remain the gaping lacunae would it not be for the essential input of lived experience in shaping such policies.
I think it’s critical for governments both in Australia and the ASEAN region to directly engage and celebrate intersectionality through public policy by including and maximising the role of people from various intersectionalities, as well as Civil Society Groups, in the policy formation process. By having diverse opinions, voices, and experiences within the policy formation process, governments will have the ability to better reflect their societies and populations through more inclusive policies which in turn may assist in overcoming societal challenges such as gender disparities in the workplace and education. This would require significant political will of which the current Australian Government seems to lack when engaging with this topic. However, governments have an incentive to develop public policy celebrating intersectionality as it would increase their soft power standing in the international community and boost their abilities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by 2030, particularly SDG 5. Dialogue and engagement are but mere pieces in the puzzle for addressing this wide-ranging issue, but I think they are significant ones.