Hivos International

Sexual Rights and Diversity

During the week of 8 March - International women's Day - Hivos is sharing stories of some of the amazing and powerful women we support worldwide. This year's theme is: “Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

The Samburu tribe is a proud cattle-keeping community in Kenya widely known for their colourful dress and cultural traditions. ‘Samburu’ means butterfly in English. Yet this fancy-free creature also describes a community where the women mostly stay at home, raise children and depend on their husband’s income to run the household.

In 2014, I was struck by a CNN interview with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then Nigeria’s finance minister, in which she was asked about her country’s new draconian anti-LGBT law which had been signed just two months before. The “Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act”  criminalized public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricted the work of LGBTI organizations.

Two of the most controversial issues in Latin America have resurfaced recently due to the decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) that recognises same-sex marriage and the right for Trans people to choose their gender identity as inherent rights.

World AIDS day on December 1 is always a global opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV. Back in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. As Hivos, we acknowledge our support and respect for people living with HIV and remember the many people we have worked with and those who have needlessly passed away. 

Accents from all corners of Latin America could be heard in a small city in Costa Rica on 20 and 21 November, when Heredia hosted the “High-Level Dialogue on Women, Human Rights and HIV”. The meeting was organised by ICW Latina and Hivos Latin America, with the financial support of the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and drew more than 150 activists and policymakers from the region, many of them women, to discuss the demands of women living with HIV.

In a digital society, friends and enemies are made all over the world via social sites and relationships are solidified or broken by 'hashtags' or 'selfies'. While online media has served many well, there has been a tragic global increase of its misuse through online victimization and gender targeted attacks. Perpetrators no longer need to look in the eyes of their victims as they spew violent, emotionally and sexually charged speech.

By Fauzia Mohammed

The question as to whether it is a permissive society, a blind eye by the community, an ill-bred culture or weak policies at institution level that has prompted sexual harassment incidences to sky rocketing numbers remains unanswered. Regrettably, sexually inappropriate remarks towards women at work places, educational centers and society at large have been normalized while the general public dismisses it as “men will always be men”.

Puede leer este blog en español aquí.

How does it feel to grow up in a completely different environment as a transwoman? In 2007, all of the Netherlands could peer into the life of Amsterdam model and DJ Valentijn de Hingh (27). She had been regularly followed from the age of seven until seventeen for the movie “Boyhood” by the documentary filmmaker Hetty Nietsch, making her a role model for many transgender people.

Over these last couple of months, Latin America has been vibrating and changing: we’ve gone from celebration to mourning, from anger to relief in a matter of days. Just one month ago, we awoke to the news of a murder attempt against our friend David Valle, LGBTI community leader in Honduras and member of Somos CDC, a partner organization of Hivos.

This is the question we sought to answer on 5 July 2017 when we congregated in Nairobi with various stakeholders across sectors during the launch of the colorful workplaces programme. I must say I was quite nervous when we were putting this event together. I wondered how it would be received by different people especially those in the private sector.