The Foundation’s International Development programme aims to empower locally based civil society organisations to address discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2015, the Foundation has worked with East African grantmaker, UHAI EASHRI, to support its institutional development, and its onward grantmaking and capacity support to civil society organisations working with and for lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women and trans and gender diverse people. UHAI operates in seven countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) and provides flexible funding through a participatory grantmaking model (peer grants).
UHAI’s grants and capacity support have enabled LBQ women and trans and gender diverse communities to build their institutions, grow membership, sustain support networks, promote dialogue, deliver targeted sexual and mental health services, advocate against and redress violence, and offer safe spaces for artistic and cultural expression. Through three cycles of peer grants between 2015 and 2017, UHAI has made 35 grants across the region.
In Kenya, UHAI is supporting an urban organisation to advance trans-affirming healthcare through training and forming allies among health care professionals, including urologists, endocrinologists, gynaecologists, psychiatrists, surgeons and health administrators; and through policy engagement and advocacy with the Kenya Medical Training Board and the Ministry of Gender and Social Development.
In Uganda, UHAI is supporting an organisation in the rural North—a region with a long and difficult history of civil conflict—to mainstream LBQ and trans rights within the mainstream women’s rights agenda, ensuring increased recognition and regard for the unique challenges that sexual and gender diversity present. This organisation has undertaken research to build a body of evidence for advocacy, and engaged local leaders, police and religious leaders in dialogue on LBQ and trans targeted violence.
In Tanzania, UHAI is supporting an urban trans-led organisation to build their institutional capacity, and raise awareness on sexual and gender diversity within public institutions, particularly healthcare centres and the police. Their advocacy is particularly urgent in the current environment of fierce and sustained government crackdowns on civil society generally, and LGBT organising in particular.
Throughout Africa, living out love and living in gender non-conformity expose individuals to prejudice, hate crime, violence and even murder. UHAI provides the resources and tools communities need to push for change from the ground up. Our partnership with the Baring Foundation is helping us grow and sustain the agency, visibility, organising power, programming and advocacy for and by LBQ women, and trans and gender diverse people across the region.
Photo credit: Lauren Barkume