AMSHeR Kicks off Implementation of the SOGIR Project

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIR) Project (January 2017 – July 2018)

The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) in seeking to achieve its strategic objective number two which aims to improve responses to stigma, discrimination and violations based on sexuality and gender in Africa has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the ‘Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Rights (SOGIR) Project, a project that aims to reduce inequalities and exclusion, and combat Homophobia and Transphobia experienced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals.

AMSHeR is implementing Phase three of the SOGIR Project over an 18-month period in 8 African countries notably Botswana, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia between January 2017 – July 2018.

Background and Objectives

Over the course of 2016, with support from USAID, OGAC and US Missions in Africa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have started to implement phases 1 and 2 of a program in 8 countries in Africa to contribute to the reduction of human rights violations, inequalities and exclusion experienced by LGBT people, by combating homophobia and transphobia. Project countries are from West, Eastern and Southern African sub-regions and include Botswana, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.[1]

The main objective of the project is to strengthen the evidence base, develop advocacy capacity and public information materials, and convene regional and national dialogues that bring together national decision makers from the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government with LGBT civil society organisations, their allies and other stakeholders. The SOGIR Project is part of a joint UNDP and OHCHR initiative, which builds on the lessons-learned from the UNDP and USAID initiative Being LGBT in Asia[2] and the OHCHR-led UN Free & Equal public information campaign.[3] The project aimed at enhancing knowledge, partnerships, and capacities of the LGBT community, civil society and States to reduce human rights violations and negative attitudes towards LGBT people in Africa.

Implementation

The project is implemented by UNDP and OHCHR, with involvement of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, the UNDP Africa Regional Centre and UNDP Country Focal Points working together with the OHCHR team on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity and OHCHR Field Presences in project countries. [4]

Phase 3 of  the SOGIR Africa Project is implemented with a collaboration of a pan-African civil society organisation to ensure community participation, representation and ownership. The following interventions are therefore proposed to build on and strengthen the SOGIR project:

UNDP has partnered with the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) to implement phase 3 of the SOGIR Africa Project, AMSHeR and its members and affiliates bring to the consortium a community voice and expertise in community engagement with policy makers. AMSHeR’s wide experience in articulating context-informed needs for its constituencies and in knowledge creation based on practical experiences brings a much-needed expertise to the project while partnering with the UNDP proves useful for AMSHeR members and affiliates, the UNDP is helping to open up advocacy and policy-making spaces in countries and speeding up key populations’ participation in these spaces.  AMSHeR also brings strong members and affiliates in most project countries, which will facilitate the link between community monitoring and policy/service provision. Its membership base allows for a bottom-up approach in programming and needs-informed policy change.

 AMSHeR’s Role on the SOGIR Project

 AMSHeR is responsible for implementing Phase 3 of the SOGIR Project that is focussing on the following:

Establishing Multi-Sectoral National Committees: UNDP is working in partnership with AMSHeR[5] to strengthen the capacity of civil society to advocate for the rights of LGBT people. A small group, led and owned by LGBT people will be established and members trained in thematic areas relevant to the project, including documentation, shadow reporting and targeted advocacy.

This group is established as a result of a multi-stakeholders workshop that will run for three days with the participation from other key stakeholders from government, the UN, development partners and from other CSOs as relevant for each country. The workshop is preceded by a community dialogue in which LGBT representatives brainstorm and prioritise key issues and challenges at the root of exclusions, inequalities and homo-trans-bi-phobia within their context.

The composition of each Committee will depend on which sectors are deemed to be key to change in each particular country and will evolve from the Advisory Group set up in each country to conduct the national assessments and round table activities. The multi-sectoral workshop will also result in a national plan to be implemented by the national committee in line with the objectives of the project and more broadly as appropriate.  National work plans will be particular to each country and will be based on local needs assessed in the ‘The National Assessments Reports’ (highlighting key issues affecting LGBT people in a particular country and formulating actionable recommendations to end violence, exclusion, stigma, discriminations and other negative attitudes).  UNDP will broker relationships and provide a safe space for this group, carefully monitoring the safety of LGBT members.  In each country, a CSO/LGBT Coordinator/secretariat will be recruited to help this National Committee to manage their work plan and achieve its aims.  This Coordinator will receive support from AMSHeR HQ and from the UNDP Project Focal Point in each country.  [6]

National LGBT Inclusion Index: UNDP’s LGBT Inclusion Index, launched in 2015 will be used in each country, in conjunction with the national assessments of LGBT rights (based on relevant sections of country scorecards), to provide information for monitoring and to inform policy. UNDP’s Index focuses on four broad areas – Economic Well-being; Political and Civic Participation; Health; Personal Security and Violence. The Index aims to identify data gaps and trends, and provide evidence to advance and support policy, with the broader aim of ensuring LGBTI inclusion in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Using this information, community generated scorecards, already developed by AMSHeR, will be updated and used by UNDP in partnership with AMSHeR to assess progress on the rights of LGBT people in project countries. Relevant Information from these scorecards will be used to inform the LGBT Inclusion Index Tool, which will provide a comprehensive basis for National Committees mentioned above, to monitor accountability. Because AMSHeR is using this scorecard under HIV-related project in other  countries, adding its relevants aspects to the Inclusion Index will form a uniform basis of comparison on baseline and also improvements across countries in the four areas (including economic well-being). It is anticipated that the Inclusion Index Report will become a credible reference document functioning in a similar manner to the shadow reports, or in some instances be used to inform alternative reports.[7]

Capacity strengthening of LGBT Organisations: Working with AMSHeR and its affiliates, UNDP will use established methods to assess and strengthen the capacity of LGBT organisations in areas such as: Organisational Governance, Financial Management, Programme Management, Monitoring and Evaluation. AMSHeR brings in the consortium the organisational capacity assessment tool (OCAT) used to assess the maturity status of USAID-funded organisations and draw corresponding capacity strengthening plan.[8]

Strengthening engagement of Key Regional Institutions: Building on previous engagement by OHCHR and UNAIDS with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights including the 2015 joint dialogue on “Ending violence and other human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity” hosted by the African Commission and with the participation of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations, OHCHR will support a regional dialogue between the African Commission and civil society organisations in Africa on the effective implementation of resolution 275, in collaboration with other stakeholders including National Human Rights Institutions.[9]

AMSHeR brings a long-standing engagement with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and will serve as a catalyst for CSO engagement. Having been instrumental for the drafting, consideration and adoption of Resolution 275, AMSHeR has experience and knowledge of healthy models to engage the African Commission, its Special Mechanisms, the Secretariat and the NGO Forum. Through panel discussions, side events, orientation training and facilitated dialogue, AMSHeR will create space for CSOs from reporting countries to engage delegations from their states (including NHRI representatives, mainstream CSOs and State delegates) on SOGI issues around the ordinary sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights based on evidence collected during in-country activities through the work of consultants and the National Committees.[10]

Project Update.AMSHeR is currently in Senegal on a Mission from the 9-14 of October 2017 for the initial out of the country missions. The meeting started with a one day Community Dialogue in Dakar which has been preceded by a Multi Stakeholder workshop supported by partner engagements by AMSHeR with its local it’s in country implementing partner. AMSHeR will fulfil all its requirements under the implementation of the SOGIR Project.

[1] UNDP, SOGIR Concept Note 2016

[2] Being LGBT in Asia available at http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/operations/projects/overview/being-lgbt-in-asia.html

[3] UN Free and Equal available at https://www.unfe.org

[4] UNDP SOGIR Concept Note, 2016

[7] UNDP SOGIR Project Concept Note, 2016

[8] UNDP SOGIR Project Concept Note, 2016

[9] UNDP SOGIR Project Concept Note, 2016

[10] UNDP SOGIR Project Concept Note, 2016