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Invitation To Apply for Diversity Forum
Member organizations: LITE, CEDEP, CHeRA, FSWA, Gender Links, Ivy Foundation, NRA
The Diversity Forum was established 11 May 2019 in Dedza, Malawi with support from AIDSFondet. All organizations under the umbrella of the Forum are led by members of key populations, and share a commitment to furthering LGBTQI+ rights and issues. Given the social and personal risks that leadership of these organizations face in navigating an unfriendly and homophobic national context, the members came together to increase the strength and coherence of the LGBTQI+ sector and ensure unity and collaboration toward local, national, and international advocacy and service delivery goals.
Diversity Forum is a consortium comprised of leadership of the organizations that make up the LGBTQI+ sector in Malawi in the interest of speaking with one voice, working together, setting unified agendas, and avoiding fracturing among the organizations working toward improving the legal, economic, social, and health situations of LGBTQI+ people in Malawi. It is a space for strengthening the links between member organizations, sharing challenges and best practices, and defining collaborative advocacy strategies, particularly toward the goal of decriminalizing same-sex relations in Malawi and ensuring inclusive service delivery to all of Malawi’s citizens.
The establishment of this Forum emanates partly from concerns among the leaders of these organizations that, with rising global interest in key populations, there has also been a recent emergence of organizations newly interested in working on and with key population and LGBTQI issues in Malawi. Yet, unlike the members of this Forum, these organizations have no history of work with LGBTQI+ communities, no real knowledge of the complex issues and challenges faced by these communities, and no links to members of these communities, even as they seek roles as implementing partners with global projects. Amid the shrinking of donor funds directed toward the global South, this means that organizations that have long been dedicated to the LGBTQI+ cause and LGBTQI+ populations, and that have significant experience working in this sector (namely, the organizations that comprise this Forum), can be sidelined and left in the cold, despite their being best placed to implement projects and service delivery with LGBTQI+ populations. We are particularly worried by the fact that these key organizations and their membership and target communities often have no say in projects, plans, policies, and funding streams meant to help key populations or the LGBTQI+ community, except perhaps after proposals have been developed or funding has been released to other organizations.
Diversity Forum Criteria
This Forum is a formal space comprised of the leadership (Executive Directors) of the following member organizations: LITE, CheRA, CEDEP, Ivy Foundation, NRA, FSWA, and Gender Links. The Forum is led by elected officers in the following posts: Chair, Vice Chair, Member, and Secretariat. Currently, the Secretariat is CEDEP, which also acts as the coordinator for the Forum. In the event an Executive Director is unavailable for a specific meeting or gathering of the Forum, the Executive Director is free to send a substitute from their organization to represent the organization.
Forum membership will be on an institutional basis. Institutions must be: LGBTQI+-led (meaning, led by an individual or group that exhibits long term, sustained, and meaningful advocacy or implementation with LGBTQI+ populations, as arbitrated by founding members of the Forum). As of now, membership is closed, as we are confident the current membership includes all LGBTQI+-led organizations operating in and registered in Malawi.
The Diversity Forum is committed to speaking with one voice and collaboratively defining and implementing a unified agenda as pertaining to health, social, economic, and human rights issues affecting the LGBTQI+ community in Malawi.
- To ensure that the LGBTIQ+ led organizations that constitute the forum are at the center of planning and implementing any and all activities, interventions, or programming targeting LGBTIQ+ people and populations in Malawi
- To provide a platform for LGBTQI+ persons and organizations to share experiences and challenges they face in defending LGBTQI+ rights in Malawi, so as to support the work of these human rights defenders
- To advocate for legal reform (in particular decriminalization of same-sex relations), sexual minority rights, access to justice and health care, and improved quality of life for all LGBTQI+ Malawians
- To ensure all proposals, plans, and policies (and material resources related to these) forged at global, regional, national, or local level targeting ‘key populations,’ in particular LGBTQI+ persons, are channeled through the Diversity Forum
- To focus on good governance, advocating for all causes that promise to improve the lives of LGBTQI+ Malawians
- To engage local, national, regional, and global partners and allies in the service of achieving our vision and mandate, through fundraising, networking, and other means
- To build the capacity of all member organizations, in terms of research, advocacy, service delivery, and monitoring and evaluation
- To ensure an intersectional approach is central to all Forum activities, whereby the Forum is attentive to how other marginalized identities (sex workers, people with albinism, people with disabilities, children, for example) compound stigma and social and economic exclusion