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Abt Empowers Local LGBTQIA+ Change-Makers Around the World

August 30, 2023

Through an evolving network of local and regional LGBTQIA+ leaders, Abt is bolstering and empowering an infrastructure to operationalize initiatives such as USAID’s recently released LGBTQI+ Inclusive Development Policy

This network gained momentum at this summer’s Women Deliver conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where Abt Global proudly sponsored and hosted the Solidarity Space for 6,000+ conference attendees to network according to regions, industries, and specific movements. Gatherings included Women in Global Health, Organizers for Girls’ Education in the Middle East, and an intergenerational forum on Aging and Activism. 

One of the first sessions I attended was “Making Space for Queer Organizing: A Safe Space for LGBTQIA+ Leaders,” organized by Colombia Diversa, Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ISDAO) and UHAI-EASHRI. This event created and amplified national and transnational networks of queer activists and organizations to share challenges and lessons learned from organizing, mobilization, intersectional feminist cooperation, mutual aid, and solidarity. 

We heard from HIV researchers in Turkey, health activists from Nigeria, and anti-poverty organizers in Nepal, among others. All illuminated the critical intersections of civil rights, public health, climate justice, and economic development LGBTQIA+ leaders shared how their organizations are often unable to consistently compete for scarce funding and the attention of donors unsure how to engage LGBTQIA+ communities. 

Yet they also shared best practices through which they can sustain operations, collaborate across movements, and maintain visibility. Each demonstrated remarkable resilience and actionable intersections with movements such as disability accommodations, labor organizing, and feminist agendas. Furthermore, they proved that LGBTQIA+ voices aren’t just relevant to LGBTQIA+ issues; they belong in discussions about climate, health, and economic development—precisely because LGBTQIA+ communities are often the most impacted. 

Throughout Women Deliver, the Abt delegation continued to engage with LGBTQIA+ leaders and organizations in Abt’s booth and in myriad plenaries and workshops. At the end of the conference, I worked with the founder and organizer of Kigali Pride to create and host a “Queer Karaoke” party where attendees could further network and express queer joy as a form of resistance. 

Next steps

Our Women Deliver delegation has since discussed partnerships and collaborations with several LGBTQIA+ leaders. Our staff based in Nepal, Australia and the United Kingdom have connected with organizations we met in Kigali and other LGBTQIA+ organizations operating in their regions. Our commitment to equity is thus also creating opportunities for Abt to empower, engage, and directly work with local entities. It reinforces our steady drive towards localization, while creating viable pathways for small, local NGOs to access development funds. 

These goals align with our clients’ priorities. USAID’s new Policy supports “a world in which LGBTQIA+ persons are able to participate fully in civic and democratic processes; have equal access to sustainable livelihoods, economic assets, and resources; have full access to education, health, mental health, and other services that are essential for personal well-being and growth; and, importantly, are supported in times of emergency.” 

Similarly, at Sydney’s WorldPride Human Rights Conference in 2023, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs announced “a new Inclusion and Equality Fund” that “will be Australia's first dedicated fund to support LGBTQIA+ civil society organizations and human rights defenders, international partnerships and networks – helping address social stigma and legal discrimination.”

It will be a hard road to walk, but we will walk it together.

Focus Areas
Australia & Asia Pacific
Latin America & the Caribbean
South & Central Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa
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