HERO Awards 2023: The Honourees

By September 29, 2023 November 28th, 2023 Regional, What We Do

Covid-19 Hero
Award Recipient

Mujer-LGBTQ+ Organization

Philippines

Mujer-LGBTQ+ Organization  is a philippines SEC Registered organization that works towards the advancement of  Mindanaoan LGBTQ+ rights and welfare by providing legal assistance and community learning sessions and campaigns on Sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristic and gender based violence as well as HIV/AIDS and Sexual reproductive healths and rights.

What one achievement your organisation has accomplished that you’re most proud of? Why? 

  • Institutionalization and integration of SOGIESC in gender and development programs, projects and activities of 5 local government units from Visayas and Mindanao namely Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, San Remigio Province of Cebu, Ilo ilo city and General Santos City.
  • The passage of Anti-Discrimination Ordinances of Zamboanga City, Municipality of Ipil, Province of Sibugay and Panglima Sugala Municipality of Bangsamoro Islamic Region.
  • The implementation of the Human rights training program in  10 areas in Mindanao.
  • Becoming an advisory member and representative of the LGBT+ community at the National Anti-Poverty Commission
  • Membership at the regional advisory group of the Regional Criminal Investigation and Detention Group under the Philippine National Police.
  • Representation of LGBT+ Community at the Local Hiv & aids council of Zamboanga City
  • Winning the RIPPLE Awards on Community Innovation during 2021 organized by LOVEYOURSELF Organisation.

What do you find most challenging about your organisation’s work? Why?

We usually provide humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable LGBT+ communities in armed conflict areas as well as regions dominated by conservative Muslims and Christians. These community outreach operations are prone to risk and raise a safety concern to our member volunteers and staff.  Our organisation operates on a limited budget making it difficult to provide comprehensive services and support to all, and on top of that we face challenges with the local and national government as well. Our human rights program for the LGBT+ communities has recently made the Philippine Intelligence agency of the national government accuse us of being a member of the communist terrorist group, this practices has been known way of the government to silence human rights based organisations monitoring their government abuses. Just recently, we were cleared of this allegations but the impact they created has affected on how we operate on the ground. 

What do you do to help your staff recharge their battery?

Advocates are prone to burnout and risk, what we do to help them address these while helping them recharge is by organizing retreats where they can relax and have fun, along with providing psychosocial activities and counselling to help them with mental health issues then pair it with safety and security training to make sure that they will always be safe wherever they may be deployed for community outreach.

What is your ask to donors?

Financial cooperation, their support helps us fund critical initiatives in providing safe spaces in organizing urgent and necessary programs to make sure the community is safe from multiple layers of risk in the region. Partnership can also provide valuable exposure in elevating the discourse on needed programs for the community.

You have been nominated for the Covid-19 Hero category.
Can you briefly provide information on what your organisation did to help your community during the pandemic?

Temporary shelter – this service is offered because the organization recognizes that LGBTQ+ communities face a particular set of challenges during pandemic which includes gender based discrimination, abuse, homelessness and losing their source of income as most of the members of the community are working in an informal economy. LGBTQ+ persons face social stigma, discrimination, and rejection by family members that only adds to the overall physical and mental strains that homeless  individuals struggle with.

Relief Operations – During the crisis, the organization is committed to our mission of increasing the scale impact of philanthropic resources aimed at enhancing the well-being of LGBTQ communities, promoting equity and advancing gender justice. Having said so, the Mujer-LGBTQ+ decided to roll the ball and conducted a relief operations dubbed as “AYUDA LGBT”, with not just one but several waves, which aims to provide relief goods and sustenance to the LGBTQ communities across the Zamboanga Peninsula–from the west coast, east coast and the metro–that are terribly affected by this pandemic

Psychosocial Counselling – We offer psychosocial services and support to mitigate the mentally strenuous effects of the pandemic and promote well-being

HIV Screening – Bringin HIV testing and several health services closer to the affected community.

Paralegal Assistance – During the pandemic, there are rise of human rights abuses committed by the duty bearers or state actors and domestic abuses committed by family members towards the lgbt+ members- this lead us to provide paralegal services to help the victims in their fight against their abuser.

What warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific? 

To all my hermanas y hermanos in the LGBT community, know that you are not alone. Your strength and resilience inspires us all. You are valid, you are cherished, worthy and an important part of our diverse world. LGBTQ rights are Human rights.

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