Micro Rainbow Brazil’s team participated in the first session of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Week, organised by the Sexual Diversity Commission of the Federal District branch of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB-DF). The event, themed “Conflicts, Care and Coexistence” took place from November 7 to 10, 2016, in Brasilia. It was attended by representatives from civil society, the government and private companies, as well as by activists and members of the Commission itself. Speakers talked about issues related to the access and guarantee of civil, political and socioeconomic rights for the LGBT population.
Lucas Paoli and Clarisse Kalume, Micro Rainbow Brazil’s manager and coordinator, participated as speakers in the “Guaranteeing access to work for LGBT people, with a focus on travesties and transsexuals” panel. Supported by the United Nations (UN) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) campaign “Free & Equal”, the other speakers on the panel were Karina de Andrade Chaves, representative from Carrefour and from the Business and LGBT Rights Forum, Marco Alfredo Sargi, executive director from the Sustainable Development and Social Businesses Unit and Simone Florindo, from OAB-DF, who participated as a moderator. As well as the speakers, there were interesting contributions from trans activists in the audience, who shared their personal experiences and perceptions about challenges encountered by LGBT people while trying to access formal labour opportunities.
MRI opened the panel speeches by contextualizing the LGBT socioeconomic inclusion issue and the methods, the structure and the preliminary results from the Micro Rainbow Brazil Project. In almost one year of implementation 120 low-income LGBT people have benefited from the project in Rio de Janeiro. Among these people, 70 have graduated from the entrepreneurship course and a further 50 from other professional training courses related to employability. Currently, MRI has 30 trans beneficiaries attending employability and/or entrepreneurship actions. The attending beneficiaries who are trans increases progressively, especially in the entrepreneurship area, which has been one important alternative for their inclusion. In the third entrepreneurship course there were 11 trans students, which represented more than 1/3 of the class.
Furthermore, MRI highlighted the importance of raising awareness about this issue within the private sector and presented our training about LGBT vulnerabilities and diversity in the work environment – an action that already has trained 17 institutions. Within this framework, Karina Chaves presented Carrefour’s corporate diversity policy, which has an inter-sectional focus and a recognized openness to hire and welcome trans people. Marco Alfredo Sardi, talked about the pioneering action carried out by Banco do Brasil in extending labour rights to homosexual employees, something ahead of the decrees already passed relating to this issue. In addition, he spoke about the problems faced by the institution in order to include trans people.
The composition of the panel enabled a rich and balanced debate about socioeconomic vulnerability and the labour market to the LGBT population. It has brought together experiences from the public (Banco do Brasil) and the private (Carrefour) sector, as well as Micro Rainbow’s participation as representatives from the Third sector focused on this agenda. One evident issue, both from the speakers and in the interventions from trans activists in the audience, was the need for permanent investment in public and private initiatives that promote trans people empowerment and that increase work and income opportunities for this population.
Our experience in the Micro Rainbow Brazil project exemplifies how our beneficiaries’ creative potential is diverse, which can be seen in such varying sectors as photography, computing, bartender, foreign language courses, gastronomy, crafts and performing arts, among others. MRI believes that positive examples of inclusion, both in the formal labour market and in entrepreneurship, multiply opportunities, affirm identities, promote recognition, rebuild emotional ties, break stereotypes and show a new possible world for the LGBT community and for other minorities.
Translated by Anaïs Vibranovski