Concept used to describe the complexity of discrimination implicating more than one ground, also known as “additive,” “accumulative,” “compound,” “intersectional,” “complex bias” or “multi-dimensional inequalities.” Though the terminology may seem confusing, it tends to describe two situations: (1) situation where an individual is faced with more than one form of grounds-based discrimination (i.e. sex plus disability discrimination, or gender plus sexual orientation). In such circumstances, all women and all persons with disabilities (both male and female) are potentially subject to the discrimination. (2) Situation where discrimination affects only those who are members of more than one group (i.e. only women with disabilities and not men with disabilities), also known as intersectional discrimination.
Regarding discrimination against women, CEDAW General Recommendation no. 25 recognizes the following: “Certain groups of women, in addition to suffering from discrimination directed against them as women, may also suffer from multiple forms of discrimination based on additional grounds such as race, ethnic or religious identity, disability, age, class, caste or other factors. Such discrimination may affect these groups of women primarily, or to a different degree or in different ways than men. States parties may need to take specific temporary special measures to eliminate such multiple forms of discrimination against women and its compounded negative impact on them.”
Sources: Sheppard, Colleen. 2011. Multiple Discrimination in the World of Work, Working Paper no. 66. International Labour Organization: Geneva.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General recommendation No. 25 on temporary special measures, article 4, paragraph 1.