From Structural Discrimination to Intersectionality in the Inter-American System of Human Rights: Unravelling Categorical Framings


  • Cecilia Gebruers UNSAM/CONICET



intersectionality, structural discrimination, categories, identity, gender discrimination


The paper focuses on the way human rights law has been incorporating notions of intersectionality through legal instruments as well as through human rights courts’ decisions. The overall goal is to expose the shortcomings of the current conception of intersectionality as it has been applied by the Inter-American Court, which, I argue, derive from a categorical understanding of group and identity-based rights transplanted from the notion of structural discrimination. The paper argues that approaching human rights violations by means of categorical reasoning is detrimental to intersectional interests, since it perpetuates the problem that intersectionality seeks to overcome in the first place, and suggests that cutting across categories is a potentially more fruitful pathway for the future of intersectionality in the legal field.


ABRAMOVICH, V., (2009). “De las Violaciones Masivas a los Patrones Estructurales: Nuevos Enfoques y Clásicas Tensiones en el Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos”, 6 Sur Revista Internacional de Derechos Humanos 11.

ABRAMOVICH, V., (2010). Responsabilidad Estatal por Violencia de Género: Comentarios Sobre el Caso "Campo Algodonero" en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Anuario de Derechos Humanos 172.

BARBERA, M. L., & WENCES, I. (2020). La “discriminación de género” en la jurisprudencia de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. Andamios, 17(42), 59–87.

BÓRQUEZ, N., (2017). “Hacia una Igualdad transformadora en las producciones de la Corte y de la Comisión Interamericana de derechos humanos. Derechos sociales, mujeres y maquilas”, Revista Electrónica Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas y Sociales A. L. Gioja, pp. 82–117.

BÓRQUEZ, N., & CLÉRICO, L. (2021). Una vuelta de tuerca al análisis de estereotipo: Estereotipo combinado. Revista Electrónica Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas y Sociales A. L. Gioja, 26, pp. 1–28.

CHACARTEGUI, J., (2010). “Mujer, discriminación múltiple y exclusión social”. In: Pérez de la Fuente, O. (ed.) Mujeres: Luchando por la igualdad, reivindicando la diferencia. Madrid, Dykinson.

CHARLESWORTH, H., et al., (1991). “Feminist Approaches to International Law”, 85 The American Journal of International Law, pp. 613–645.

CHOW, P. Y. S. (2016). “Has Intersectionality Reached its Limits? Intersectionality in the UN Human Rights Treaty Body Practice and the Issue of Ambivalence”, 16(3) Human Rights Law Review pp. 453–481.

CLÉRICO L., et al., (2013). “Hacia la reconstrucción de las tendencias jurisprudenciales en América Latina y el Caribe en materia de igualdad: sobre la no-discriminación, la no-dominación y la redistribución y el reconocimiento”, 9 Revista Direito GV, pp. 115–170.

CEDAW Committee, (2010). General Recommendation No. 28, on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, (2000). General Recommendation No. 25, Gender Related Dimensions of Racial Discrimination.

COOMARASWAMY, R., (2001). Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women on the subject of race, gender and violence against women.

CRENSHAW, K., (1989). “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”, University of Chicago Legal Forum 139.

CRENSHAW, K., (2011) “Twenty Years of Critical Race Theory: Looking Back To Move Forward”, 43 Connecticut Law Review 5.

FISS, O., (1976). “Groups and the Equal Protection Clause”, 5 Philosophy and Public Affairs.

HILL COLLINS, P. & BILGE, S., (2016). Intersectionality (John Wiley & Sons).

IACHR, (2000). Ana, Beatriz and Celia Gonzalez Perez v. Mexico, Case 11.565, Report No. 53/01.

IACHR., (2001a). Maria da Penha v. Brazil, Case 12.051, Report No. 54/01.

IACHR, (2001b). María Eugenia Morales de Sierra v. Guatemala, Case 11.625, Report No. 4/01.

IACHR, (2006). Paloma Angelica Escobar Ledezma et al v. Mexico, Case 1175-03, Report No. 32/06.

IACHR, (2007). Access to Justice for Women in the Americas.

IACHR, (2011). Lenahan v. United States, Case 12.626, Report No. 80/11.

IACHR, (2011). The work, education and resources of women: the road to equality in guaranteeing economic, social and cultural rights.

IACHR, (2015). Report on Access to information, violence against women and administration of justice.

IACHR, (2015). Report on Legal Standards related to Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System: Development and Application.

IACHR, (2017). Indigenous Women and their Human Rights in the Americas.

IACrtHR, (1984). Advisory Opinion on Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provision of the Constitution of Costa Rica.

IACrtHR, (2009). González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico, Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations, and Costs, Judgment, (ser. C), No. 205.

IACrtHR, (2010). Rosendo Cantú et. al. v. Mexico, (ser. C) No. 216.

IACrtHR, (2014). Veliz Franco et al v. Guatemala, (ser. C) No. 277.

IACrtHR, (2015). Gonzalez Lluy et al. v. Ecuador, (ser. C), No. 298.

IACrtHR, (2015). Velasquez Paiz et al v. Guatemala, (ser. C) No. 307.

IACrtHR, (2016). I. V. v. Bolivia, (ser. C) No. 329.

IACrtHR, (2017). Caso Trabajadores de la Hacienda Brasil Verde v. Brazil, (ser. C) No. 318.

Makkonen, T., (2002). Multiple, compound and intersectional discrimination: bringing the experiences of the most marginalized to the fore, Institute for Human Rights. Åbo Akademi University.

MARTÍNEZ, F. R., (2008). “La discriminación múltiple, una realidad antigua, un concepto nuevo”, 28 Revista española de derecho constitucional, pp. 251–283.

MERCAT-BRUNS, M. et. al. (2016). “The Multiple Grounds of Discrimination.” In Discrimination at Work: Comparing European, French, and American Law, Oakland, California: University of California Press, pp. 145–246.

Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (2007), Tackling Multiple Discrimination: Practices, Policies and Laws.

Ontario Human Rights Commission, (2001). Discussion Paper on an Intersectional approach to discrimination.

Organization of American States (OAS), (1969). American Convention on Human Rights, "Pact of San Jose", Costa Rica.

Organization of American States (OAS), (1999). Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ("Protocol of San Salvador").

PANTALEO, K. (2010). Gendered Violence: An Analysis of the Maquiladora Murders. International Criminal Justice Review, 20(4), 349-365.

RONCONI, L. (2018). “Repensando el principio de igualdad: Alcances de la igualdad real”, 49 Isonomía, pp. 103–140.

SABA, R., (2005). “(Des)igualdad estructural”, Revista Derecho y Humanidades 11.

SHELTON, D., (2009). “Prohibited Discrimination in International Law”, in The Diversity of International Law. Essays in Honour of Professor Kalliopi K. Koufa (Martinus Nijhoff).

SOSA, L., (2017). “Inter-American case law on femicide: Obscuring intersections?”, 35 Netherlands Quarterly Of Human Rights, pp. 85–103.

World Conference against Racism — NGO Declaration (2001). Durban.






How to Cite

Gebruers, C. (2023). From Structural Discrimination to Intersectionality in the Inter-American System of Human Rights: Unravelling Categorical Framings. The Age of Human Rights Journal, 20, e7629.