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An ode to empowering queer activists in

BOTSWANA “building solidarity and strengthening movements (2016- 2018)�


We are committed to raising consciousness amongst and strengthening activism and leadership of LBQ women on sexuality and gender and its intersections with a wide range of lived realities



04 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A message from Dolar Vasani, CAL’s KP Reach Programme Manager

05 KP REACH LEARNING OBJECTIVES The KP REACH Learning project is v alidated by the realities of queer women in Southern Africa. In Botswana’s context, it was important to deepen consciousness and healing of queer activ ists, and more.


CONVERSATIONS FOR CREATING CHANGE W ith aim to deepen the consciousness of activ ists in Botswana, CAL Conv ersations were held monthly in 2017 and annually in 2018 to discuss v arious issues that consisted but were not limited to: self-care, agenda in mov ements, financing mov ements and solidarity building

06 COMMUNICATION FOR CREATING CHANGE An in-depth understanding with regards to Botswana’s context with regards to crisis in democracy, patriarchy & heteronormativity, mov ements & mov ement building and the capitalist crisis.

12 CASE STUDIES FOR CREATING CHANGE A synopsis of a few inspiring stories of indiv iduals and organizations that


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Many of us working as LGBTIQ activists have deep wounds – of pain and hurt from being ridiculed, rejected, stigmatized and discriminated. Some of us are very broken and this manifests itself in many unkind ways of treating oneself and others. The CAL Conversations in all eight Southern African countries have provided safe spaces for activists to come together and speak about and share their experiences of this trauma. Having a greater awareness of what it is and where it may be coming from is the first step towards healing ourselves.

These spaces have also been important for having conversations about the status and health of the movement in our respective countries. The CAL National Programme Officers have played a pivotal role in bringing different voices together and have constructive dialogues about how to work more collaboratively and constructively. This report provides a snapshot of those rich discussions about the power dynamics of our struggles, as well as important strategies to try out. I hope you find it stimulating and that it challenges the existing paradigm of how to organize in your own context. -

Dolar Vasani




Objectives of KP REACH Learning -

To deepen consciousness and understanding with activists from 4 networks in 8 countries and at the regional level on what works in relation to access to the right to health, including health services in the context of HIV and AIDS


To establish a culture and politics of knowledge that names, recognizes, affirms and builds capabilities for research that is led by marginalized groups and is rooted in their lived realities and able to inform stronger work on access to health, including health services in the context of HIV and AIDS


To use social and mass media to expand the reach and engagement of activists, advocates and human rights defenders in Southern Africa on what works frameworks emerging in relation to strengthening access to health and health services for marginalized people in the context of HIV/AIDS.


COMMUNICATION FOR CREATING CHANGE COUNTRY CONTEXT CRI SI S IN DEMOCRACY Botswana’s next election is coming up in 2019. It has only been led by one party since independence, calling into question its identity as a true democracy. In the last election (2014), another party, the Umbrella Democratic party for Change (UDC), backed mostly by young people, made a lot of strides that other opposition parties hav e failed to make in 51 years of independence.. There has been a loss of passion, a professionalization of issues as serv ice delivery and mov ement building among other gov ernance issues is carried out by NGOs. Freedom of speech is a concern with a lack of openness in publicly challenging head of state. Due to shrinkage of NGO’s and CSO’s, securitization is faced daily.

PATRI ARCHY AND HETERONORMATI VITY Religion, traditional culture, laws, and public education perpetuate patriarchal and heteronormative systems. Same- sex sexual acts are criminalized in Botswana and punishable by up to 7 years in

prison, according to Section 164, 165 and 167 of the Penal Code. The Penal Code lists same sex sexual acts as Offences against Morality. In 2013, during the Univ ersal Periodic Rev iew, Botswana rejected the recommendation by 6 states that it should de-criminalize same sex relations. Similarly, gays and bisexuals are barred from serv ing in the military. The International Cov enant on Civ il and Political Rights, which Botswana ratified in 2000, talks about no discrimination solely on the basis of sex. Additionally, the Constitution implies equal rights to freedom. Despite this, discrimination reigns as Christian fundamentalism is perpetuated in society. W ith regards to gender identity, there are no specific laws that discuss illegality of gender identity and but the Constitution implies freedom of indiv idual and expression. Due to this lack of laws, it has been incredibly difficult to change the gender on identity documents. Legally, people are recognized only by their gender at birth through a heteronormative gaze, which is what is on their national identity card. Accessing certain serv ices is a

challenge as when one’s gender on paper doesn’t match the gender one identifies with. Howev er, on the 29 t h September 2017, in a landmark case inv olv ing a transman, the Botswana High Court ruled that the Registrar of National Registration should allow him to change his gender marker on his identity card. The same happened on the 12 t h December 2017, the High Court ruled in fav our of a transwoman, to change her gender marker fitting her identity. Heteronormative teachings create binaries which births ignorance and discrimination against transgender and intersex people. Thanks to the media cov erage of the transgender court cases, people hav e been engaging in more conv ersations about what it means to be transgender or intersex. In Botswana, sex work is criminalized and therefore not properly regulated. Most people interpret sections 155, 156, and 157 of the Penal Code to mean that sex work is an illegal trade. Therefore, sex workers are harassed by the police and abused by clients. This could be due to cultural morals and religious beliefs.


Despite this, sex work is still perv asive because of pov erty and peer pressure, and many women and men choosing to engage in sex work. Going a step further, BONELA has previously called for the decriminalization of sex work as a way to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. The lack of legislation and regulation hinders access to prev ention and treatment, and its exposes sex workers to abuse and harassment (Baputaki, 2011). Howev er, some feel that legalizing sex work would increase exploitation of women and that sex work is not a big enough progression in Botswana to warrant legalizing. On the 11 th May 2017, Botswana signed the rev ised SADC Protocol on Gender and Dev elopment, four years after it was ratified by two thirds of the other member states. The protocol prov ides for the empowerment of women, elimination of discrimination, and the promotion of gender equality and equity through gender responsiv e legislation, policies, programmes and projects (SA, 2017)


CAPI TALI ST CRI SIS Botswana is facing a lot of issues, including youth unemployment and an ov erreliance on diamonds- mono economy with heav y reliance on diamonds. Unemployment continues to rise and is seen as a threat to the country’s peace and stability. The general belief is that the skills produced by our schools do not match the skills demanded by our economy.

IN COUNTRY ORGANIZATION / MOVEMENT BUILDING The Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) is an NGO that “promotes the recognition, acceptance and equal protection of all human rights of the LGBTI community in Botswana.” Initially founded by Ditshwanelo center for Human Rights as a project in 1998, it was not implemented due to lack of funds. Howev er, the project was later resurrected by the

Botswana Network for Ethics, Law, and HIV/AIDS (BONELA). Ov er the years, LEGABIBO has tried to register their constitution with the Registrar of Societies at the Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs but has been rejected. LEGABIBO appealed the decision in October 2012 but that was also rejected. In April 2013, LEGABIBO took the gov ernment to court for the right to be recognized as a registered organization. In 2014 LEGABIBO won a landmark case that allowed them to be an officially registered organization. Rainbow Identity Association (RIA) is a successfully registered organization. It was founded in 2007 and legally registered with the Registrar of Societies in December 2010. RIA is an NPO of transgender, intersex, gender questioning, gender queer, and gender non-conforming people that aim to challenge transphobic laws and transphobia in

Botswana. Another organization working on trans issues is Health Empowerment Rights (H.E.R.). H.E.R. works with women, including women who hav e sex with women and transgender women. There a few organizations working to protect the rights of sex workers, trying to empower them economically to get them out of sex work, and trying to ensure that the children of sex workers don’t end up as sex workers themselv es. These organizations include Sisonke, Nkaikela, and Pilot Mathambo Centre for Men’s Health. Sisonke is a sex worker-led organization consisting of 456 members across the country. Members are made up of male and female sex workers as well as immigrant sex workers from 5 districts in Botswana. Pilot Mathambo Centre for Men’s Health works with MSM and male sex workers.

MOVEMENTS In response to the high rate of youth unemployment, the Unemployment Mov ement was created. Howev er, the mov ement is unwilling to collaborate or be in solidarity with other mov ements. Assistant Minister of Local Gov ernment and Member of Parliament, Botsogil e Tshireletso, made a call for legalising abortion and sex work on International W omen’s Day. The Unemployment Mov ement said she is telling young women to be prostitutes when she should be telling gov ernment to create jobs. W hen in a desperate economic sit uation, people become conserv ative and turn on each other, i.e. sexuality and women’s rights. In May 2017, a woman was stripped and assaulted at the bus rank for being “prov ocatively” dressed. A few years ago, incidents like this were quite common, but in recent years not so much. This incident reminded ev eryone that women don’t hav e control ov er their own bodies. Angered by the lack of consequences of this incident, young women mobilized and organized the #IW earWhatIWant march in Gaborone. This resulted in what is said to be one of the most radical, definitive moments in the recent history of feminist mov ements in Botswana (Nlebesi, 2017). Following this march, a few more took place in other towns and cities around the country.


CONVERSATIONS FOR CREATING CHANGE With aim to deepen the consciousness of activists in Botswana, CAL KP REACH Conversations were held m onthly in 2017 and annually in 2018 to discuss various issues that consisted but were not lim ited to: selfcare, agenda in m ovements, financing m ovements and solidarity building.

WELLNESS FOR ACTIVISTS This conv ersation explored the indiv idual and collective understanding of w ellness, tapping into inner peace, spirituality, mental and professional wellbeing, financial health and the env ironment. Participants shared that organizing leads to aspects of illness, such as burn out and poor eating habits. Participants further discussed improving self-care practices through dedicating their time to meditation, reading, inv esting in a hobby, strengthening their relationships with friends and ensuring more policies in the w orkplace speak towards self-care. From the conv ersation, participants stressed the need to hav e a session w here mental health is the core subject at hand, w here stereotypes, stigma and socio-political issues that trigger mental health can be discussed thoroughly.



“ What is our solidarity impacted by? “

cording to participants solidarity is defined in two ways: groups or indiv iduals coming together for a common interest and using each other’s strengths to achiev e that common interest. Additionally, solidarity cannot be defined without being action oriented, i.e. working together, listening to each other, and sharing knowledge. W hile participants used to work in silos, shared pains formed a common interest – particularly human rights and access to health. There is room for more practice of intersectionality as the mov ement is currently plagued with an undertone of competition due to the shrinkage of granters, leading to competing for funding from grant makers. It is understood that solidarity breeds v isibility and ease in achiev ing goals such as the exemplary case of BONELA housing, capacitating and assisting to register v arious organizations. In means of improv ing solidarity, participants believed that there needs to be a comprehensiv e conflict resolution institution within the mov ement, as well as cross-organization team building, collective care and agreeing on common causes. conflict resolution, the recommendations included: dev eloping a memorandum of understanding so we hav e a document to consult, acknowledging conflict, identifying the cause, working together to dev elop a solution, acknowledging different v iew points, sharing space and compromising, inv olv ing ev eryone or engaging in inclusiv e participation, promoting and encouraging constructive networks and joint initiatives, fair mediation, engagement that’s not extractive, and not putting others down just because you are unable to agree.



rganizing in a capitalistic society requires money. Howev er, dynamics such as clashing personalities, human capital and

self-organization (identifying strengths and weaknesses internally) lead to monetary challenges within organizing. The common challenge is hav ing to negotiate mov ements in order to satisfy donor mandates through their funds, and limits autonomous decisions in creating sustainability, harnessing potential and political stigma. In sourcing where the finances come from, participants noted that the global north hold precedence of bank for NGO’s, further noting that the holistic dependence on donors is not sustainable.

THE POLITICS OF MONEY Alternatives to funding challenges including hosting fund raisers such as raffles, festivals such as pride, dinners and sports tournaments. Smaller organizations additionally prov ide goods and serv ices such as selling merchandise, membership fees and priv ileges and inkind donations.

Conclusively, bodies that give funds are also found here in Botswana, such as the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), the Youth Development Fund (YDF) by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, and Culture, and the Department of Gender Affairs. However, the uphill battle of stigma within these organs is still faced. Although this was a difficult conversation to mitigate, participants were willing to consider the diversification of income streams for their respective organizations, to ensure more autonomous decisions in their ways of grassroots working.



A key component of the KP REACH Project, and specifically the Learning Journey facilitated by CAL, is the development of CASE STUDIES – so we can learn from other organisations and networks and create our own knowledge based on the work that we do.

Case studies are stories about people and how they can and did make a difference or change. Every story of an advocacy campaign teaches other advocates something unique, and is an advocacy case study. By analysing our processes, documenting learning about what worked and what did not work, we can guide others on how to work on their own issues. Through case studies, we as activists share specific lessons of our advocacy and stimulate ideas about how to make a difference.

Our case studies are shared on the CAL website, which you can visit here.



KP REACH LEARNING (2016 - 2018)  

KP REACH Learning is led by the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] with input from the African Sex Worker Alliance [ASWA], Southern Africa...

KP REACH LEARNING (2016 - 2018)  

KP REACH Learning is led by the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] with input from the African Sex Worker Alliance [ASWA], Southern Africa...