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This tool is from a resource called ‘Lens on, hands on: An Intersectional Guide to Financial Capability Program Development,’ created by Good Shepherd Australia & New Zealand, WIRE and Women with Disabilities Victoria, as part of the Women’s Financial Capabilities Project. This content in this resource was led by a co-design process which engaged First Nations women, women from migrant, refugee, and asylum seeker backgrounds and women with disabilities.
Powerful forces always act in parallel to systems of oppression, directly, or indirectly maintaining them. The paradigms and social structures currently dominant in Australia are white, patriarchal, and capitalist, and are built on historically accumulated power and stolen First Nations land. Power imbalances in this category run deep. They are entrenched in our realities and social norms and translate into rules and processes we follow. See Fernando (2018)’s definition of Intersectional Power Analysis in Terms we use (in the Guide).
Many of our organisational models are designed for top-down decision-making. People who are directly impacted by our programs may be consulted, but seldom lead the design and decision-making process.15 Power imbalances in this area can also show up relationally, when we “unknowingly take positions of power and assume that [a person’s] difference makes them less capable of making decisions.
Power imbalances in groups are different every time, as they depend on group dynamics, and factors like who’s in the room, what is being discussed, unspoken norms, who is leading the discussion. Power imbalances in groups can be internalised, and because they are highly contextual and relational. Power imbalances in groups can be internalised. Because they are highly contextual and relational, what can feel relatively harmless or normal to one person, can be highly uncomfortable, or at the expense of someone else.