Left behind

An analysis of the United Nations’ response to the intersecting identities of gender and religion


  • Rebecca Symes


Religious persecution, United Nations, gender, women, intersectionality, vulnerability, human rights


Intersectional language is increasingly incorporated into the policy dialogue, analysis and reporting of UN entities and special rapporteurs including UN Women and Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB). This paper analyses the United Nations’ responses to gendered religious persecution based on a quantitative content analysis of UN documents and a series of qualitative interviews with experts. The findings suggest that the UN is inconsistent in its recognition of the intersectional vulnerability of gender and religious persecution. Significantly, various international declarations issued by UN Women, a branch dedicated to gender equality and protection, have progressively stopped mentioning this intersection.