Resourcing a Dynamic and Resilient Movement: A conversation with regional grantmakers on the opportunities and challenges

By November 5, 2021 Advocacy, Regional

During the pre-conference of the APCOM Community Summit 2020, APCOM hosted on 23 November 2020, in partnership with Global Philanthropy Project, a virtual session on “Resourcing a Dynamic and Resilient Movement”.  This was a conversation with civil society and regional grantmakers on the opportunities to collectively mobilize new financial resources for LGBTI communities in Asia and the Pacific.

This conversation helped to explore in detail the 2017-2018 Global Resources Report (GRR) data, identify and encourage opportunities for alignment and collaboration; and develop strategies to respond to current trends. 

In the first segment, civil society speakers Isikeli Vulavou (Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network, Fiji), Manisha Dhakal (Blue Diamond Society, Nepal) and Midnight Poonkasetwattana (APCOM) briefed on their work and priorities in the region; and shared their thoughts on how the COVID19 pandemic has affected the lives of the LGBTIQ communities and how COVID19 impacted on resource mobilization and the implementation of  projects and programmes.

The discussants highlighted the need for more data collection to identify priority issues and the necessity to effectively discuss the required resources with grantmakers.  Civil society representatives advocated for regional discussions and online coordination, addressing discrimination and violation of rights of the affected communities; and maintaining an open and frank dialogue with the UN, other international organizations and governments.

The GRR demonstrates clearly that most funding still focuses on health interventions and little goes into community empowerment and infrastructure.  The institutionalization of community organizations is lacking in the region and COVID19 amplified the need for emergency funding to go to communities quickly during crisis. There is an urgent need for a community led granting mechanism in the region.  All recognized the importance of working at grassroot levels and strengthening the leadership within the communities. Mental health and sustainability of community organizations are issues that came to the fore during the pandemic.

In the second session, participants reviewed the data for the 2017-2018 Global Resources Report (GRR). With a total of some $560 million, the GRR shows an 11 percent increase in funding, together with an increase in the number of grants and grantmakers. In general however, LGBTI communities received less than 31 cents for every one dollar compared to overall foundation funding and some 4 cents for every dollar compared to overall government funding.

Although funds are awarded to groups in Asia and the Pacific, the resources are still coming from outside the region. On the other hand, there is a noticeable positive shift from funding international organizations towards local, indigenous and regional funding.  It should be also noted that the unfortunate trend of closing space for civil society may increase restrictions for receiving money for LGBTI issues. The report also shows the top ten funders’ long-term commitment which results in funding stability for the Asia and Pacific region. Breaking down funding for each country may be important to show where funds should be increased or stabilized.

The report may serve as a tool for internal discussions, improve donor coordination and partnership and strengthen advocacy initiatives for all interlocutors. 

APCOM would like to thank the following speakers for joining the discussions:

Isikeli Vulavou is a development professional with over fifteen years of experience as a human rights activist and defender for LGBTQI Rights and Equality and key populations affected by HIV in Fiji and the Pacific. Isikeli uses gender neutral pronouns Ze/Hir and identifies as genderqueer. Ze is the current Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) – a regional network of LGBTQI networks and organisations from around the Pacific. Isikeli is also the Founder and Managing Director for the Rainbow Pride Foundation which is an LGBTQI-led organisation in Fiji. Ze was the lead convenor for two Pacific Human Rights Conference on SOGIE that was held in Nukualofa in 2015 and in Nadi in 2018

Manisha Dhakal is the Executive Director and a founding member of BDS. Manisha was an active participant in the Supreme Court hearing in 2007, speaking openly about her experiences of violence, discrimination and stigmatization as a trans woman. She is one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network, where she represents South Asia. She is one of the co-chairs of the ILGA Asia board, and a board member of IRGT, a global network for trans women and HIV. In 2010, she was awarded the Nai Ram Laxmi National Award for her contributions to the LGBT movement in Nepal, and she is also a Human Rights Campaign global innovator. Manisha holds a master’s degree in finance from Shanker Dev College, Kathmandu.

Zack Lee graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations in the hope of working on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Accidentally landing in the higher education sector, he specialised in educational development, learner-centred design, and teaching and learning with technology. Having a keen interest in the intersection of individual participation, new forms of expression and technology, Zack pursued a Master’s degree in urban development, focusing on how policy-makers learn and adapt new ideas in their own context. He has since worked in areas such as compliance in government procurement, eco-city policy movements and rural livelihood vulnerabilities. He started as the Linking, Learning, and Communications Officer for Voice Indonesia and Philippines, connecting different partners together to facilitate learning between them. He is currently the Regional Roving Grant Officer for Asia.

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