Belarusian Researchers Think About Each Individual

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute recently organised a seminar on the integration of the gender and intersectionality perspectives into human rights research in Minsk, Belarus.

Twenty researchers were present from various Belarusian universities from Minsk, Polotsk, Mogilev, Gomel and Brest. During the 3-day seminar the Belarusian researchers discussed with their Swedish peers how to integrate gender and intersectional perspectives into research projects. Intersectionality is a sociological theory about how an individual can face multiple levels of discrimination based on the different groups they are part of, such as race, class or gender.

They also spoke about how to bring this dimension into educational programmes and the work of legal clinics.

“We chose this topic for a seminar because any qualitative and socially responsive research needs to take into account particularities that individuals experience in society,” says Olga Bezbozhna, a programme officer at RWI.

She says these differences in situations, needs, and experiences are determined by various factors, such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, abilities, and age. “Socially responsible research needs to take these factors into consideration,” she says.

The Institute invites researchers to consider gender and intersectional perspectives in the research cycle – when setting up priorities for their research, when developing and applying different concepts and theories, when formulating research questions and problem descriptions, collecting and analyzing data and presenting results.

“To integrate gender and an intersectional dimension in research, classic legal research methods are not always enough,” says lawyer Anton Haurylenka, a teacher at the Belarusian State Economic University. “Legal methods need to be complemented by methods from other disciplines, for example method of content-analysis, interviews, and questionnaires, since these methods allow us to see in empirical terms what effects laws have on people.”

Participants came from a number of disciplines. “It is very interesting for me as a sociologist to team up with colleagues from legal disciplines and share methods that are used in sociology to see how they can be applied and benefit results of the legal research. I am sure this exchange will enrich the quality of the research produced in Belarus,” says Irina Kandrichina, an associate professor at the Belarus National Technical University.

An interdisciplinary approach should occur in order to integrate gender and intersectionality perspectives into any research, says Bezbozhna. She says this work will continue in 2017, as one of the priorities of RWI cooperation with Belarusian academics.

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