Across West Africa, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people live in an increasingly hostile environment. Over the past several years, a surge in homophobic laws, violence, and arrests have focused new attention on the struggles of LGBTQ people in the region. Historically, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have been the focus of philanthropic attention, particularly in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This has kept issues facing lesbians, bisexual women, trans people, and other queer-identified and gender non-conforming West Africans at the margins. In recent years, however, more broadly-based LGBTQ organizations are emerging, including many led by queer-identified or gender non-conforming women. These organizations contend with multiple, overlapping challenges in establishing and sustaining their work—particularly in Francophone countries, where civil society infrastructure is comparatively weak and donor investment is limited.
Vision: A just and inclusive West Africa free from violence and discrimination.
Mission: An activist-led fund dedicated to strengthening and supporting a West African movement for gender diversity and sexual rights by adopting a flexible approach to grant-making and building a culture of philanthropy committed to equality and social justice.
to delivering our mission is shaped by these four pillars:
-To increase and diversify resources available to support and advance the rights and safety of LGBTQ people in the West African region as well as to build a culture of philanthropy committed to human rights and social justice in West Africa.
-To respond to the realities of our region, where LGBTQ movements and the context within which they operate are still emerging and constantly changing. They seek to develop and strengthen the dynamism and diversity of LGBTQ communities, as well as the leadership and organizing of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women, and of gender non-binary and transgender people, communities, groups, organizations, and movements.
-By adopting a flexible approach to grant-making, to support innovation and recognize diverse sites, forms, and expressions of activism in the West African region. They are committed to the growth of organic movements, which requires adaptability and a long-term commitment.
-To advocate for change by convening interested parties for dialogues and build knowledge by promoting and strengthening a culture of documenting the work of and lived realities of LGBTQ organizing and communities.
The work of the Fund is guided by the following principles:
-They are an activist-led fund, which means that they place equitable representation of the LGBTQ community in the decision-making processes of the Fund as central to ensuring responsiveness, transparency, and accountability for the human and financial resources placed in our custody.
-They believe in building ideologically principled movements –The work of the Fund is grounded in an understanding that the system, institutions, norms and practices of patriarchy support the oppression of trans*, gender non-conforming people and women. They recognize the ways in which power operates in our society including in organizing spaces. They therefore commit to strengthening movements whose work is based on an understanding of power and the role that financial and human resources play in dismantling hierarchies of power for freedom and justice.
-Autonomy, Inclusivity, Diversity and Intersectionality – They believe in self-determination and therefore recognize the diversity of queer and gender non-conforming people, their specificities and needs. Individuals reserve the right to define and live their gender identity and expression. They intend to create spaces that make room for a diversity of identities and expressions. They will support existing and emerging initiatives of LGBTQ people and organizations that work towards transforming the politics of sexuality to allowing for self-determination at all levels.
Where is Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ISDAO)