Intersectionality-based Policy Analysis Tool

Toolkit arrow-right Analysing the issue

This is the Make Way Consortium’s Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) tool. It will help you analyse policies related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as health systems, through an intersectional lens.

Table of content

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The tool
Chapter 3: How to use the tool step by step
Chapter 4: Next steps
Chapter 5: More information

1. Introduction

Policy and laws are often seen as documents with authority that cannot be questioned. By applying this tool, you realise that policies are written by people. People who are shaped by society and have their own biases so are, in some respects, subjective. Policies are often influenced by unequal power dynamics. This tool is a framework to give value to that subjectivity and reveal power imbalances. In that way, it provides you with a guide to shifting power norms, which is key in an intersectional approach to advocacy.

What will you get out of the tool?

  • The tool provides a roadmap for the policy analysis process. It allows you to determine which stakeholders and what policies to further investigate, where there are possible alliances, and what opportunities and challenges there may be. Applying the tool enables you to ask critical questions about a policy, find out who is behind it, and think through points that would not be under the spotlight in a regular policy analysis process.
  • The tool adds an intersectional way of thinking to how we look at the underlying power dynamics of policies.
  • The tool humanises policy – the process of policymaking and the people who benefit/are affected by it. It helps us shift into a framework that puts the goal of “leaving no one behind” at the centre of every policy.

2. The tool

The tool consists of 36 questions, divided into 8 categories (see annex 1):

  • what is the policy about
  • the policy’s ecosystem
  • the perspectives that underpin the policy
  • the policy development process
  • the people or identities the policy addresses
  • how the policy operates
  • monitoring and evaluation of the policy
  • accountability

The tool and its outcomes can be used by different groups:

  • There are the analysers: people knowledgeable on policymaking
  • There are the advocates: who can use the results of the analysers to influence and monitor
  • And there are the wider target groups of the existing policies that can be informed and trained with this tool

Of course, the different groups may overlap. You may be both an analyser and an advocate!

We would advise you to think of the IBPA as a collaborative process. You can, of course, do it as an individual exercise, but the value of the information you get will vary. For example, if you do the exercise with representatives from other coalitions or areas of interest to the policy, you’ll be able to get information from a perspective you may not have anticipated. This is at the heart of intersectionality: realising that your views and knowledge may differ from someone else’s, and the value of this in collaboration.

3. How to use the tool step by step

Step 1: Background work

  • Identify the policy document you want to analyse. Why do you want to analyse it? What are your goals and objectives?
  • Choose an appropriate methodology, given the expectations and available resources. It can be an online or in-person group session. Or even an individual exercise.
  • Who are you involving in this policy analysis exercise? Are people impacted by the policy part of this? Have you considered involving youth, minoritised people, the people that the policy actually targets?
  • Make sure you know at which stage of the policymaking cycle your policy currently is. Agenda setting? Policy formulation? Consultation? Policy implementation? Policy evaluation? This will help you make further decisions on what possibilities you have for advocacy.
  • Do some research in advance. For example, it might be useful to find out more about the decision-making process of the policymakers. Or to hear something from people who ‘live’ the topic of the policy. But don’t get too absorbed in detail beforehand. You will get a better sense of what you will need to focus on after the exercise.
  • Keep the context in mind. Is the policy addressing a sensitive issue in the context you’re operating in? Then you might consider doing the analysis in a safe space (physical or digital).
  • Allow time for participants to read the policy before your session: share it as early as possible. If time allows, and there are requests from participants, you may consider a briefing call ahead of the IBPA session to answer questions about the policy document.
  • It is useful to have someone who is more knowledgeable about the policy provide a summary, and some background information, at the beginning of the session.

Step 2: Getting to know the tool

  • Take a moment to look through all the questions. Based on your knowledge, and the stage that the policy is at the moment, take a vote during the session on which ones are most relevant to answer now. For example, if the policy is currently under review, you might want to focus on the monitoring and evaluation questions.
  • Depending on how much time you have, and your priorities, the participants should vote on which section(s) of the policy to focus on.
  • Do not feel you must answer all questions in one session!
  • Decide in advance what follow-up sessions or work will be needed.

Step 3: Analysis

  • Focus on the section and questions with the most votes first.
  • Answer what you know based on the research you’ve already done.
  • Highlight what areas or points need further research. Think about places, people and resources you can use to get answers to the questions. Think about who is easily accessible and who isn’t. Even if you cannot contact the people you’ve identified, listing them is already a start.
  • Identify the questions that are important but you are unable to answer at the moment.
  • Once you have dealt with all the questions voted for that could be answered, review the remaining questions once more. After the first analytical run-through, you might find that questions that didn’t seem to be a priority at first do now give further information and a distinct perspective.

Step 4: Write-up

 After collecting any missing information, start putting together the analysis in the form that will best fit your advocacy goals and target group.

  • If you are collaborating with others on advocacy about this policy issue, share the process with your collaborators and determine the best way to process it.

4. Next steps

What to do after completing the exercise

After analysing your policy through an intersectional lens, you can use your findings to develop a lobby and advocacy plan that will bring the change you want to see in the policy or its implementation. You can also use the results of the analysis to inform your target group on the opportunities (and challenges) the policy offers. We have some more tools that can help you with that.

Additional tips

  •  Several types of documents can be considered policies, and can also be analysed with our tool: laws, draft bills, strategic documents (from governments, development partners, multilateral organisations, etc), reports, action plans …
  • You do not always need to answer all 36 questions in the tool. Choose the ones that are relevant to the type of policy and, importantly, your learning and advocacy goals.
  • The time the exercise takes depends on how many questions you would like to address, or how much detail you want to include. We would suggest approximately 3-4 hours, maybe broken down into two sessions. There is no limit, but remember to take breaks!
  • If you have more than 8 participants, you may consider working in breakout groups.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t have all the answers, and neither should you be expected to have them now. This is a cumulative process that will guide you in identifying areas of knowledge and further growth.
  • Keep the questions in mind that were not relevant at this point of the policy process. Remember the types of questions that the tool provides, so that you can think about them as you continue your work.
  • Thinking intersectionally is a process and requires time. To use the tool in day-to-day work, consider having the tool easily accessible (like a printout) to keep the questions in mind.


We want to hear from you! Please share your experience with the tool with us. We would love to learn about how to improve, what areas were most useful for you, and how you plan to implement your work based on the analysis.

5. More information

The original tool

We based our Make Way IBPA tool on the IBPA tool developed by Olena Hankivsky. This is a great tool that establishes a good basis for policy analysis through an intersectional lens. It explains the key concepts of intersectionality and provides guiding principles to bring the questions in line with the analysis.[1] However, we adjusted it to better reach Make Way’s goals. We have also made sure that it’s practical and user-friendly, adaptable to different stages of policy development, useful for local, subnational, national, regional and global policies, and part of a feedback loop of learning.

Here you can find the questions of the Make Way Intersectionality-based Policy Analysis tool.

[1]Hankivsky, O., Grace, D., Hunting, G. et al. An intersectionality-based policy analysis framework: critical reflections on a methodology for advancing equity. Int J Equity Health 13, 119 (2014).


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