‘Race’ is not just something black people have; all of us are shaped and indeed gendered by it. ‘Race’ developed primarily as a term to try and explain differences between whiteness and blackness, and to account for the different ways of life of white and black peoples around the world. The majority of the world’s population is not white. That majority is, strikingly, also not rich (for example, see UNICEF, 2006). Understanding the way in which such racial inequalities have emerged and to what extent they are connected to gender involves considering in particular why it is that black women and women of colour are among the world’s poorest. Here I use the word ‘black’ in a broad sense of ‘not white’.The term ‘women of colour’ is used by some writers to be more inclusive of Asian, Polynesian and other peoples aside from those of black African heritage, but I use the terms fairly interchangeably to indicate that most major racial divisions have occurred around the opposition white/non – white, where white has become synonymous with European (Bonnett, 2000). The term ‘non-white’, however, tends to reinforce the idea that white experience is the norm. Therefore I use these other terms to draw attention to the lives and experiences of women who are not of European origins. An appreciation of colonizing processes is necessary to understand how ‘race’, or ethnicity, and gender interrelate; but first, it is important to define some of the other highly loaded terms in this field, especially the concepts of ethnicity and of race.