Micro Rainbow attended the 60th session of the CSW (Commission on the Status of Women), held in New York, between 14 and 24 March 2016 (http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016), with the theme of Women’s Empowerment and its links to Sustainable Development.
On the 18th of March MRI joined the Measuring Inclusion of LBTI Women panel, a parallel event of the Commission, organized by RFSL, COC Netherlands, OutRight Action International and ILGA. The panel was composed of Suki Beavers, a representative from UNDP, Leigh Ann Van der Merwe, a South African activist from S.H.E (Social, Health & Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa), Clarisse Kalume (MRI) and moderated by Andrew Park (Williams Institute). Panellists discussed their perspectives and experiences in producing measuring tools and collecting data at both local and international levels.
Our team gave a presentation to the panel focused on the methodology applied to monitor and evaluate the results of the Micro Rainbow Brazil Project, currently running in Rio de Janeiro. We spoke about the challenges faced in addressing specific vulnerabilities of LBTI women in our field of work. Based on intensive research and training on international indicators of inclusion and stepping out of poverty, we have developed tools that allow us to identify the socio-economic profile of our beneficiaries, as well as their professional goals and expectations. They have also enabled us to establish a zero mark from which we can track their progress during their participation in the project. We have found two main challenges in the process of developing these tools:
- There was no data about the size of the LGBTI population in Brazil and there was not enough information about LGBTI people in poverty in Rio, so we had to create baseline surveys in order to start collecting such data (e.g. the last official census in 2010 had, for the first time, a question concerning same-sex couples).
- We had to create our own questionnaires to monitor the progress of our beneficiaries because the most reliable tools like the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) are focused on the heteronormative family unit and do not capture the living realities of our community.
The moderator, Andrew Park (Williams Institute), suggested a change in the panel presentation dynamics, addressing questions about the motivations, the goals and the challenges of data collection in the scope of action of each panellist, which gave a more academic/scientific tone to the event. The debate then revolved around the goals, the specificities and the utility attributed to the measurement methods undertaken by each institution involved. In this regard, we presented the structure of our monitoring survey, which aims to monitor the improvements in the living conditions of our beneficiaries. We also explained that this survey is applied in the first contact with our beneficiaries and again at the end of the project. It aims to capture:
- in which situations/places beneficiaries feel more discriminated againstr (based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Gender Expression – SOGIE);
- the impacts of SOGIE discrimination on their job opportunities and other intersectionalities such as racism, social class, etc.
- their access to goods and services;
- housing conditions and financial dependence;
- influences on their self-esteem and social inclusion.
We also emphasized that Micro Rainbow’s goal is not to provide a large statistic base at the end of the project, but that, for us, the data collection is a starting point to our actions. More than collecting data on LGBTI poverty, we listen to beneficiaries’ stories, trying to understand how they feel about being LGBTI in different situations and places and building a relationship based on trust. We consider that a direct approach and a close relationship are the best ways to collect detailed information on LGBTI vulnerabilities, the specific needs of each identity group and to measure the impact of our work in their lives. We hope that this tool will allow us to contribute to the creation of an LGBTI poverty index at a micro level that can be replicated in the other countries where MRI operates and by other organizations.
The opportunity to participate in the Measuring Inclusion of LBTI Women panel was really valuable as it enabled me to have not only a more comprehensive understanding about data collection methodologies and their application in different scales, but it also allowed me to create an important balance by discussing our assessment and monitoring methods and tools in an international event dedicated to this topic.
In my opinion, participating in the CSW60 undoubtedly meant facing many challenges. This was my first experience in an international conference of this magnitude and despite my relative inexperience, my participation in the event enabled me to have a wider perspective about the treatment given to issues on LBTI women in the international scene and to situate this debate inside the struggle for gender equality.
Moreover, it became clearer to me that this debate cannot be disassociated from an intersectional perspective, in which sexual orientation, gender identity, race and social class are aggravating factors of women’s poverty.
One LGBTI person is murdered every 26 hours in Brazil. Most of them are WOMEN. LBTIs are more marginalized and exposed to lethal risks such as police abuse, lesbotransphobic violence and poor health conditions. Therefore, they pay a higher price to step out of poverty and, because of that, we believe they deserve more attention from the international community, including in any effort to collect data on our community.
Translated from Portuguese by Anais Vibranovski