Leave No One Behind Platform meeting about the SDGs and Intersectionality


On May 20th the first session of the ‘new’ Leave No One Behind Platform took place. Together with about 30 participants we discussed the topic of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and intersectionality. Leaving no one behind is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The SDGs are presented as an inclusive and intersectional agenda, but the question remains whether they are inclusive and intersectional in practice?

The session started with presentations by three key speakers: Jennifer Bushee from Wemos, and Georgette Veerhuis from the SDG Team of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) who was supported by her colleague Betty Gubena from Directie Sociale Ontwikkeling (DSO). Wemos and partners were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cooperate in a new strategic partnership on intersectionality and SRHR, called Make Way. The session was facilitated by Nina Guillerme, consultant at Diverse and Inclusive consulting.

Is it possible to leave no one behind, when everyone is different and has different needs?   

Georgette Veerhuis talked about intersectionality and the SDGs in regard to foreign policy. She mentioned that intersectionality and the SDGs are treated quite separately in different departments within the MoFA. Furthermore, Georgette touched upon what is happening with regards to foreign policy related to intersectionality and leaving no one behind, where she mentioned the diplomatic efforts at the UN level to get intersecting forms of discrimination into resolutions. However, in order to make foreign policy more intersectional and inclusive, there is a need for more inclusive data. Otherwise some groups remain invisible. Georgette ended her presentation with some questions for discussion:

  • How intersectional is your organization?
  • Is the development cooperation sector willing to invest in reaching the most vulnerable?
  • How do you achieve concrete results when reaching out to the most vulnerable groups?


In her presentation Jennifer Bushee, coordinator of Make Way, talked about how the Make Way consortium operationalises the promise of leaving no one behind and how they contribute to creating a more intersectional world. Make Way is an ambitious programme that aims to encourage a growing number of organisations and young people facing marginalisation to adopt an intersectional SRHR approach in their advocacy. A big part of the intersectional approach includes being self-reflective and asking who may be excluded or adversely affected by our work.  Make Way also seeks to support civil society to dissect SRHR policy along intersectional lines and fight for more intersectional policies. Despite the progress being made, much remains to be done if we are to better understand how policies affect diverse groups of people, including the identification of who benefits and who is excluded from health policies and the actions they yield. As with the first presentation, the presentation ended with a set of discussion questions:

  • What’s at stake if we don’t use an intersectional lens?
  • Is an intersectional approach realistic?
  • Is it possible to leave no one behind, when everyone is different and has different needs?
  • How can we do our development work if positions and identities are dynamic and fluid?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities organisations and programmes face in applying an intersectional approach?


After the interesting presentations of Georgette and Jennifer, in small break out rooms participants exchanged experiences and best-practices with regard to dealing with an intersectional approach in their programmes and organisations. The participants actively participated in the discussion and a lot of useful tools, mostly with regard to self-reflection on power dynamics, were shared:


The main take-aways from this webinar and discussion can be summarised into the following points:

  1. Education on intersectionality: make sure that the notion of intersectionality is well understood by organisations, policy makers and programmes. We need to change mindset and behaviour and be reflective on power dynamics, both as individuals and organisations. We should also keep an eye on a growing opposition against intersectionality.
  2. Voice and empowerment of civil society: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a programme focusing on strengthening civil society and is involved in diplomatic efforts to push for UN resolutions with regard to intersecting forms of discrimination.
  3. Data gathering: there is a great importance in knowing where data and knowledge is coming from and who decides on that.  
  4. Data disaggregation: it may be a little confusing to put people into boxes, especially because intersectionality strives to recognise the overlap of identities and social categories, however for quantitative purposes it helps to have sharper data on what we call vulnerable groups and how to reach them. This data however should be collected using a qualitative approach.


It can be concluded that intersectionality is a very important topic in Leaving No One Behind! There is much to say on the topic and still very much to learn about it. This first LNOB webinar was very interesting, fruitful and full of promises for further joint learning.