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Let’s Talk Intersectionality

Cette ressource est aussi disponible en français.

“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde 

This Let’s Talk is a foundational primer to intersectionality – an increasingly mainstream yet misunderstood term – and what it means for public health practice, policy, and research in Canada.  

This document is intended to support discussion, reflection and action on applying intersectionality in public health practice, programs, policies and research. It provides guiding reflection and discussion questions for individuals, teams and organizations  

An intersectional approach to public health recognizes the complexity and diversity of human experience. It helps us consider ways that systems of power and oppression like racism, classism and sexism are interwoven. And it can help public health practitioners and decision makers ensure their stated commitments to health equity are translated into meaningful action that disrupts oppressive systems and practices.    

Developed for public health audiences, this document defines core concepts of intersectionality, describes its historical roots in Black feminism, and outlines potential pitfalls and benefits to public health. 

This document outlines how intersectionality offers public health practitioners, decision-makers, researchers and organizations: 

  • a lens to examine how structural and social determinants of health interact;  
  • a focus on overlapping systems of oppression as well as human resistance in the face of oppression; 
  • a fuller understanding of distinct experiences of privilege and disadvantage, their root causes and their relationships to equity, health and well-being; and  
  • an emphasis on critical reflection to unpack how underlying biases, values, beliefs and norms relate to systems of power and oppression and drive daily practice and decision-making.  

Use this resource to:  

  • Describe the core ideas of intersectionality that are relevant to public health and transformative health equity action 
  • Reflect on and discuss how to apply intersectionality in your own work, with your team and in your organization 


Related Resources:  

Companion Document: Intersectionality: a curated list (2022)

Public Health Speaks: Intersectionality and health equity (2016)


See other resources on intersectionality and public health.

More from the Let’s Talk Series


 National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2022). Let’s Talk: Intersectionality. Antigonish, NS: NCCDH, St. Francis Xavier University. 

Tags: Key concepts, Intersectionality, Report / Document, Let's Talk