We have conducted various activities including those where we engaged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila and in their resident missions in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Lao PDR. These meetings resulted in discussions about the project and connecting APCOM and our country partner organizations with ADB. One of the outcomes of this was the conduct of a panel discussion at the ADB headquarters on May 17, 2019 to commemorate IDAHOT. The panel discussed possibilities of LGBTQI inclusion at the ADB operations. This was the first time for ADB to commemorate IDAHOT.
Another major component implemented under Finance Inc was the conduct of capacity strengthening workshops in the four countries where Finance Inc is being implemented. These workshops gathered representatives from LGBTQI organizations in the respective countries. Discussed during the workshop were frameworks related to LGBTQI inclusion in relation to private sector and the private sector in each country. The workshops also tried to identify possible entry points for engaging the private sector in the future.
APCOM, our country partner organizations, and the organizations we have been able to involve (so far) in the course of our project implementation, agree that engaging financial institutions and the private sector are relatively new, especially in the regional context. And as with all things new, it is challenging. There is a need to clarify who do we engage when we say ‘private sector?’ How do we engage? How do we take into consideration the different contexts in each country?
Pathways of Change
A large part of the partners’ meeting was devoted to developing the Finance Inc. Pathways of Change. With lessons learned and hindsight given the experience APCOM and our country partner organizations – Micro Rainbow International (Cambodia), Suara Kita (Indonesia), LaoPHA (Lao PDR) and Babaylanes Inc. (the Philippines) had related to Finance Inc components, this process allowed us to locate how we can get closer to the objectives we have set for the project. Locating where we were at this point allowed us to identify what we needed to do to be closer to those objectives.
The general theme that surfaced was the need to increase engagement with the private sector. The gaps identified will be one of the bases which will inform the pilot projects which will be developed and implemented by Finance Inc. country partner organizations.
Emerging lessons and reflections
‘Leaving no one behind’ is one of the principles which Finance Inc is anchored on. In the course of our implementation of Finance Inc, APCOM and our country partner organizations always attempt to involve representation from the whole LGBTQI spectrum. This, even as we are cognizant that there are contexts and factors which may limit such attempts including people’s self-identification, the nuances in the prevailing environment in each country, and available resources.
One of the lessons from the project implementation is that in our quest for inclusion and to leave no one behind, we need to be cognizant of other layers, issues and experiences of LGBTQI people. We have to be more conscious of intersections of SOGIESC with other aspects, for example inclusion of and sensitivity to LGBTQI persons who are living with disability. Inclusion requires reflecting on ways on how to further involve them in the discussions and for their voices and issues to be heard.
Indeed, the 2019 Partners’ Meeting was meaningful not only because its objectives were met but because it was a space where meaningful participation of our partner organizations was front and center.
With these insights and reflections, APCOM and our Finance Inc. country partner organizations are moving forward with more clarity in 2020. With our minds and hearts open to new learnings and realizations.