28 Sept 2023
A Platform for Change

In the face of daunting legal and social constraints that disproportionately affect marginalized communities, the Women Deliver Conference stands as a critical platform for social change. This convening of decision-makers from various sectors—civil society, government, the private sector, and international agencies—also includes vital voices from women’s rights organizations, youth-led initiatives, LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups, and movements representing the intersectional identities of girls, women, and underrepresented populations. This melting pot of voices provides a platform for knowledge-sharing, showcasing best practices, and advocating for policies and initiatives that advance the rights and well-being of women and girls. This isn't just a conference; it is a rallying cry and a catalyst for change.

Fostering Change Through Accountability Mechanisms

Let's talk accountability. We've seen countless commitments in the past aimed at addressing the challenges posed by these constraints, but how often are they upheld? In light of this, it becomes crucial to establish robust accountability mechanisms. These mechanisms ensure that global commitments made in the past and forthcoming years translate into real, gender-transformative policy change. To this end, the WD2023 conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 17-20 July 2023, marked a significant shift towards enhancing partnerships. By convening 6,000 people in Kigali and 200,000+ people online, it sought to forge connections between a diverse spectrum of actors and to amplify the perspectives of grassroots advocates at the country level. This approach, both in-person and virtual, underscored the conference's commitment to fostering change every step of the way.

The State of Intersex and LGBTQ+ Activism in Africa: A Unique Perspective

The "Don't Leave Us Behind" session combined both auditory and visual learning styles to shed light on the state of LGBTQ+ and intersex organizing in Africa. Through the power of storytelling and visual arts, stakeholders, donors, leaders, and allies were invited to immerse themselves in the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community in Africa and find catharsis through engaging with their stories and artistic expressions. The panel discussion featured LGBTQ+ leaders from various parts of the continent, representing diverse intersectional identities. It's worth noting that, according to Human Rights Watch, LGBTQ+ rights are outlawed in 34 out of 54 African countries, exposing this community to significant violence and neglect from both state and non-state actors. The session served as both a sanctuary for the marginalized community and a platform to foster collective action, holding conference leaders accountable in the spirit of decolonization and Pan-Africanism.

Amplifying Real-Life Experiences

The primary objective of the panel was to increase awareness of the growing anti-LGBTQ+ violence in African countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, and others by sharing the real-life experiences of young queer activists and leaders. This initiative harnessed the power of art and creative expression, both digital and traditional, to dispel misconceptions and challenge falsehoods about gender and sexual diversity.

Intersecting Movements: A Shared Struggle

Ultimately, the panel emphasized the interconnectedness of LGBTQ+ and feminist issues, showcasing how our movements can mutually reinforce each other. The conference and its accompanying sessions play a vital role in advancing social change and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities. They inspire collective action, encourage accountability, and demonstrate the power of storytelling and art in fostering understanding and empathy. These efforts remind us all not to leave anyone behind on the path to a more equitable world.

So, here's to solidarity, to collective action, and to the beautiful, unstoppable force of change. Together, we're shaping a world where no one is left behind.

Will you stand with us?

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