"The power of telling a story isn't so much for the hope of an impact, as it is for reflecting the power and resilience of the individual. Even though individuals’ rights can be trumped, the sharing of experiences can foster equality and equity for the storyteller - no matter how marginalised they are."
Queer Awakening, an initiative by NGO Success Capital, defends LGBTIQ+ rights. We document the experiences of queer youth with the aim of integrating them in policy, customary and advocacy spaces.
Law, politics and society influence each other but despite some advancements in Botswana’s courts, human rights experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, gender non-conforming, othered (LGBTIQ+) youth remain compromised, unsecure and undocumented in a systematic manner. The small pockets of discrimination, hate speech, corrective rape, suicide attempts and self-conflict result in LGBTIQ+ youth being excluded in decision making at policy, customary and advocacy spaces.
Advancements at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights reflect the gap in which LGBTIQ+ human rights advocacy is no longer good enough for guaranteeing change for the future in Botswana or Africa at large. There is a gap between human rights discourse and policy-level commitments such as the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063. Similarly, there is a need to integrate these efforts within the wider human rights movement. We need to ensure that stakeholder engagement can be sustained without the limitations of geography, long-term funding and gatekeeper exclusivity within civil society.
Queer Awakening documents lived experiences and uses them for advocacy through variant ways of civic action, with campaigns led by and targeted to LGBTIQ+ youth themselves. This challenges intolerance in social, family, religious workplace, learning, cultural and accountability spaces through intersectionality in storytelling. It also builds an intellectual arsenal for LGBTIQ+ youth to reshape and challenge prevalent narratives within Botswana and Africa's context.
Queer Awakening contributes to achieving SDG3 by documenting stories on health access, service delivery and care with the aim of informing avenues for policy change and alignment for LGBTIQ+ youth. Achieving SDG5 is also a crucial part of the project, in that the captured experiences are inclusive of gender identity and expression from a human rights based perspective. This will lead to gender diversity, inclusion and mainstreaming in society.