On The International Human Rights Day (10 Dec), and it’s the 70thanniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. APCOM is pleased to be celebrating this day by reaffirming our commitment to ensuring that people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) in Asia and the Pacific enjoy a full range of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights and that these rights are protected.
To celebrate the day we’re profiling the voices of our communities in the region through our Finance Inc project which aims to help financial institutions focused on international development in the Asia Pacific region to be more inclusive of SOGIESC people. Finance Inc. is a multi-country initiative to develop an inclusive approach in the financial sector involving partners from Cambodia (Micro Rainbow International-Cambodia), Indonesia (Suara Kita), Lao PDR (LaoPHA) and the Philippines (Babaylanes). Representatives from participating organisations met in Bali, Indonesia during the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund & World Bank Group (IMF-WBG) which was attended by 15,000 people from 189 member countries.
Finance Inc. is being produced by APCOM with the support of a Voice Global Influencing grant. Voice Global supports projects which help the most marginalised and discriminated people in selected countries in Asia with the aim of amplifying and connecting unheard voices in efforts to leave no one behind.
To read more about our Finance Inc. project, check out our Compass Series
Here are some reflections from the meeting participants:
Finance Inc country partners getting ready for the Civil Society Townhall with International Monetary Fund (IMF) which featured Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Yong Kim.
Kong Yara, Project Coordinator, Micro Rainbow International-Cambodia, Cambodia
The meeting was an opportunity for Micro Rainbow Cambodia to share information on its poverty reduction programme for LGBTI people in Cambodia. We gave information on programme activities, some of the challenges we face, and some of the solutions and lessons learnt. APCOM was able to secure a session at the CSPF for Micro Rainbow Cambodia to provide an analysis on the situation for LGBTI people in Cambodia, especially on their financial inclusion. The CSPF session was an opportunity for the participants to learn and get pointers from the World Bank which is integrating SOGI into their work. The CSPF session has also contributed to finding project partners in the planning sessions for Finance, Inc. We at Micro Rainbow Cambodia are keen to engage in this project and to find out how the ADB can be more inclusive of LGBTI issues in its programming and our role to make it happen. We are also excited at the prospect of supporting other countries in developing poverty reduction strategies for the benefit of LGBTI people.
Teguh Iman Affandi, Executive Board Member, Suara Kita, Indonesia
One of direct impacts from LGBTIQ marginalization is poverty among them. In Indonesia, many transgenders live in poor conditions. They have difficulty to access education or health services, so these difficulties limit their opportunity for achieving economic empowerment. Meanwhile, gays and lesbians are also vulnerable from poverty especially when they decide to come out. Thus Finance Inc is a good initiative to influence bank and other financial institutions to make sure that no one is left behind. The inception meeting held in Bali in October was a meaningful meeting because we met other organizations who also work for LGBTIQ rights in Philippines, Laos, and Cambodia. The meeting opened my eyes about the struggle that my fellow LGBTIQ have to deal with. Some of the challenges are frustrating, but there are also many hopes that emerge from the meeting.
Olam Rasaphonh, Project Coordinator, LaoPHA, Lao PDR
During this meeting LaoPHA had an opportunity to share the current situation and the issues being faced by the LGBT community in Laos. These included their economic situations and challenges related to employment for LGBT people. LaoPHA also had the opportunity to learn from different country partners on LGBT issues which were very helpful for LaoPHA to design the pilot project concepts and activities based on our local context and experiences. We will be adapting a Community Engagement Model for SOGI, currently being piloted by APCOM and LaoPHA and we plan to implement this with LGBT communities in Vientiane and Champasak. This will also be an opportunity to sensitize Lao society about SOGIE in a context-appropriate approach, towards influencing community itself, and contributing to policy and societal changes.
BJ Eco, Executive Director, Babaylanes, Inc, Philippines
With identified countries in the ASEAN region, we were able to reflect on the efforts extended by communities to make financial policies inclusive. How is this going to happen? We recognize the position of multilateral development banks (MDB) in influencing and setting global and regional standards through their policies, which can create a ripple effect. Finance Inc has also provided us with new approach in our present advocacy on the SOGIE Equality Bill. MDBs are potential powerful allies in lobbying for non-discrimination. Once MDBs adopt SOGIE-inclusion in its systems, this can possibly influence the public and private sectors to institute SOGIE-inclusive and SOGIE-responsive standards and policies like the SOGIE Equality Bill. The meeting was also an opportunity for us to learn from the experiences of other countries and for us to share about our own experiences. The meeting gave us a better grasp of how far we’ve come as a country in advancing SOGIE-inclusion and how much more we need to do.