Public event

Centering black women in EU equality law

The Centre for Fundamental Rights is honoured to welcome Prof. Iyiola Solanke for the 2023 annual distinguished lecture, hosted in collaboration with the Jacques Delors Centre and as part of the 'CIVICA Research Excellence Tours'.

Since 1989, when Kim Crenshaw wrote about the structural blindspots (Crenshaw, 1989) in anti-discrimination law, the idea of intersectionality has had a significant impact in disrupting dominant discourses in general – it is now an analytical approach used across many disciplines (Hines, Taylor and Casey, 2010; Wilson, 2013; Zemore and others, 2011; Bauer, 2014; Gardner, 2005).  The concept has spread far beyond equality law and been welcomed as a general methodological approach.  

Much less progress has been made in disrupting the dominant narrative of anti-discrimination law – in EU law, intersectionality has been adapted to fit existing legal, cultural and conceptual frameworks rather than changing the frameworks themselves. As a consequence, although a successful methodological approach, intersectionality has been unsuccessful in protecting the group for whom it was designed: black women workers remain marginalized in EU law. In her lecture, Prof. Solanke will explore how this has happened and will suggest that thinking about discrimination as stigma provides a way to approach intersectionality that locates black women at the centre of anti-discrimination law. 

This event is part of the Distinguished Lectures event series hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights. This lecture is being co-hosted with the Hertie School's Jacques Delors Centre. It is also part of the "CIVICA Research Excellence Tours" which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101017201.

Prior registration is required. The event will take place onsite at the Hertie School and will also be live-streamed on Youtube.


Distinguished speaker

  • Prof. Iyiola Solanke is Jacques Delors Professor of European Union Law at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College. Her research focuses on institutional change, in relation to both law and organisations. She is the author of ‘EU Law’ (CUP 2022), ‘Making Anti-Racial Discrimination Law’ (Routledge 2011) and ‘Discrimination as Stigma - A Theory of Anti- Discrimination Law’ (Hart 2017), as well as many articles in peer reviewed journals. Solanke founded the Black Female Professors Forum to promote visibility of women professors of colour. In 2018, she chaired the Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL and she is currently leading two research projects: Co-POWeR, an ESRC-funded project looking into the impact of COVID on practices for wellbeing and resilience in Black, Asian and minority ethnic families and communities; and Generation Delta, a RE/OfS-funded project promoting access to and success in PGR study for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women.

Welcome address


  • Prof. Mark Dawson is Professor of European Law and Governance at the Hertie School. His research focuses on EU law and particularly on how EU law affects and is affected by European politics and policymaking.

  • Photo by Ines Grabner

    Elisabeth Kaneza is a legal and political scholar, who completed her doctoral thesis at the University of Potsdam on the rights of Black people in Germany. She is the community outreach officer at the DeZIM Institute, where she is responsible for the civil society support process of the National Discrimination and Racism Monitor (NaDiRa). In February 2022, she was appointed by the German government to the Advisory Board for the implementation of the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent.

  • Photo by Shari-Lynn Venus

    Awet Tesfaiesus was elected to parliament in September 2021 as a member of the Green Party, less than two years after the racist attacks in Hanau in February 2020, becoming the first Black woman in Germany to ever win a seat in the Bundestag. Previously a lawyer who represented asylum seekers and refugees, Awet was elected as a city councillor for the city of Kassel in 2016. During this legislative period, she chairs the cultural committee, working towards decolonisation and enhancing diversity. As a member of the legal committee, she currently works on reform towards an effective anti-discrimination law.


  • Prof. Cathryn Costello is Professor of Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights. She is a leading scholar of international and European refugee and migration law and also explores the relationship between migration and labour law in her work.

Live-stream on Youtube

Partnership between

Background reading:

1. Kimberle Crenshaw, ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a black Feminist Critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, Feminist theory and antiracist politics’ (1989) 140 University of Chicago Legal Forum 139. 

2. Sally Hines, Yvette Taylor and Mark E Casey, Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality (Palgrave Macmillan 2010); Angelia R Wilson, Situating Intersectionality: Politics, Policy, and Power (The Politics of Intersectionality) (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).; Sarah E Zemore and others, ‘Racial Prejudice and Unfair Treatment: Interactive Effects With Poverty and Foreign Nativity on Problem Drinking’ (2011) 72 J Stud Alcohol Drugs 361; Greta R Bauer ‘Incorporating intersectionality theory into population health research methodology: Challenges and the potential to advance health equity’ (2014) 110 Social Science & Medicine 10; Morgan Gardner, Linkage Activism: ecology, social justice and education for social change (Routledge 2005).