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“This Is Why We Became Activists”: Violence Against Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women and Non-Binary People

February 14, 2023

According to interviews Human Rights Watch conducted with 66 lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ+) activists, researchers, lawyers, and movement leaders in 26 countries between March and September 2022, forced marriage is one of ten key areas of human rights abuses most affecting LBQ+ women's lives. Human Rights Watch identified the following areas of LBQ+ rights as those in need of immediate investigation, advocacy, and policy reform. This report explores how the denial of LBQ+ people's rights in these ten areas impacts their lives and harms their ability to exercise and enjoy the advancement of more traditionally recognized LGBT rights and women's rights:the right to free and full consent to marriage;land, housing, and property rights;freedom from violence based on gender expression;freedom from violence and discrimination at work;freedom of movement and the right to appear in public without fear of violence;parental rights and the right to create a family;the right to asylum;the right to health, including services for sexual, reproductive, and mental health;protection and recognition as human rights defenders; andaccess to justice.This investigation sought to analyze how and in what circumstances the rights of LBQ+ people are violated, centering LBQ+ identity as the primary modality for inclusion in the report. Gender-nonconforming, non-binary, and transgender people who identify as LBQ+ were naturally included. At the same time, a key finding of the report is that the fixed categories "cisgender" and "transgender" are ill-suited for documenting LBQ+ rights violations, movements, and struggles for justice. As will be seen in this report, people assigned female at birth bear the weight of highly gendered expectations which include marrying and having children with cisgender men, and are punished in a wide range of ways for failing or refusing to meet these expectations. Many LBQ+ people intentionally decenter cisgender men from their personal, romantic, sexual, and economic lives. In this way, the identity LBQ+ itself is a transgression of gendered norms. Whether or not an LBQ+ person identifies as transgender as it is popularly conceptualized, the rigidly binary (and often violently enforced) gender boundaries outside of which LBQ+ people already live, regardless of their gender identity, may help to explain why the allegedly clear division between "cisgender" and "transgender" categories simply does not work for many LBQ+ communities. This report aims to explore and uplift, rather than deny, that reality.

Forgotten by Funders

December 1, 2021

This report highlights the underfunding of work with and for imprisoned and formerly imprisoned women and girls,  alongside a worrying increase in the global female prison population. The report draws from the survey responses of 34 organisations, most of which are based in the Global South and have women with lived experience of the justice system involved with or leading their work. Calling to donors that fund human rights, women's rights and/or access to justice, the report concludes that this heavily gendered area of human rights tends to fall through the cracks of donor strategies, including recent Gender Equality Forum pledges. 

Covid-19 and the media: A pandemic of paradoxes

April 1, 2021

This report covers responses to the infringement of the right to freedom of information, misinformation on social media and the impact on public interest media caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with a human-rights based approach and gender-sensitive lens.As journalists on the frontline have supplied essential live-saving information to massively expanded audiences in need of reporting they could trust, advertising revenues have collapsed, leaving public interest media struggling to survive.The report features interviews with journalists from four IMS programme counties, Colombia, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine about the challenges created by the pandemic and case studies showcasing success stories from independent media outlets in Pakistan, the Philipines, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

Lessons From the Implementation of Mo-Buzz, a Mobile Pandemic Surveillance System for Dengue

October 2, 2017

Background: Approximately 128 countries and 3.9 billion people are at risk of dengue infection. Incidence of dengue has increased over the past decades, becoming a growing public health concern for countries with populations that are increasingly susceptible to this vector-borne disease, such as Sri Lanka. Almost 55,150 dengue cases were reported in Sri Lanka in 2016, with more than 30.40% of cases (n=16,767) originating from Colombo, which struggles with an outdated manual paper-based dengue outbreak management system. Community education and outreach about dengue are also executed using paper-based media channels such as pamphlets and brochures. Yet, Sri Lanka is one of the countries with the most affordable rates of mobile services in the world, with penetration rates higher than most developing countries.Objectives: To combat the issues of an exhausted dengue management system and to make use of new technology, in 2015, a mobile participatory system for dengue surveillance called Mo-Buzz was developed and launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This paper describes the system's components and uptake, along with other similar disease surveillance systems.Methods: We developed Mo-Buzz and tested its feasibility for dengue. Two versions of the app were developed. The first was for use by public health inspectors (PHIs) to digitize form filling and recording of site visit information, and track dengue outbreaks on a real-time dengue hotspot map using the global positioning system technology. The system also provides updated dengue infographics and educational materials for the PHIs to educate the general public.The second version of Mo-Buzz was created for use by the general public. This system uses dynamic mapping to help educate and inform the general public about potential outbreak regions and allow them to report dengue symptoms and post pictures of potential dengue mosquito–breeding sites, which are automatically sent to the health authorities. Targeted alerts can be sent to users depending on their geographical location.Results: We assessed the usage and the usability of the app and its impact on overall dengue transmission in Colombo. Initial uptake of Mo-Buzz for PHIs was low; however, after more training and incentivizing of usage, the uptake of the app in PHIs increased from less than 10% (n=3) to 76% (n=38). The general public user evaluation feedback was fruitful in providing improvements to the app, and at present, a number of solutions are being reviewed as viable options to boost user uptake.Conclusions: From our Mo-Buzz study, we have learned that initial acceptance of such systems can be slow but eventually positive. Mobile and social media interventions, such as Mo-Buzz, are poised to play a greater role in shaping risk perceptions and managing seasonal and sporadic outbreaks of infectious diseases in Asia and around the world.

Development by Dispossession? Forced evictions and land seizures in Paanama, Sri Lanka

September 20, 2016

In 2010, 350 families of farmers and fisherfolk living in Paanama, a coastal village in the east of Sri Lanka, were forcibly and violently evicted from lands they had cultivated and lived on for over forty years. These lands were taken over by the military to establish camps, and they are now being used to promote tourism. Oxfam calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement their decisions on immediate release of these lands back to the community which depends on them for livelihoods and food. Take action here.This briefing note is part of the initiative Land Rights Now: The Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights. 

The Landscape for Impact Investing in South Asia

April 3, 2015

This extensive report aims to provide a "state of the market" landscape analysis of the impact investing industry in six countries across South Asia -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Impact investments, as defined by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), are investments that intentionally seek to generate social and/or environmental impact alongside a financial return. In addition, the report captures other activity that may be relevant for impact investors, such as investments at the base of the economic pyramid that may lack an explicit intention for positive impact.

The Landscape for Impact Investing in South Asia: Understanding the Current Status, Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

December 1, 2014

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), in partnership with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, published the full release of The Landscape for Impact Investing in South Asia, a "state of the market" analysis of the impact investing industry in the region. The most comprehensive study of impact investment activity in South Asia to date, the full report includes a chapter for each of the six countries studied -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.The report analyzes an active impact investing market across South Asia. Development finance institutions (DFIs) remain a significant player in the market, having deployed over $8 billion in impact capital to date. However, several other types of investors -- including VC/PE funds, foundations, family offices, and commercial banks -- are becoming increasingly active, and such non-DFI impact investors have deployed over $800 million to date in the region.

Sri Lanka Social Enterprise Needs Assessment and Advisory

November 1, 2014

Authored in collaboration with Oxfam, this research maps social enterprises within the agriculture sector, identifies the key challenges they face, and makes recommendations for donors and development agencies looking to support the space in Sri Lanka. Findings and recommendations developed based on secondary research and field survey of social enterprises in Sri Lanka.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development: Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific

May 7, 2014

Several governments in the Asia-Pacific region have actively engaged in the United Nations' Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) for the past seven years, as both participants and leaders. Virtually every country in the region has assigned representatives in GFMD's network of country focal points, eight Asia-Pacific countries are part of GFMD Steering Group, and a number have contributed to the roundtable and thematic meetings either as co-chairs or team members. Three countries from the region were also part of a 14-member Assessment Team that outlined the future of the Forum after 2012. The region's active engagement has helped shape the themes and topics of GFMD meetings, beginning with the first meeting convened in 2007. However, during this time, the challenges facing migrants and their families have not abated. To remain relevant, the GFMD must become as instrumental in shaping the reality on the ground as it has been in shaping the global discourse on migration and development. The 2012 GFMD assessment shows participant states' demand for a more development-focused and results-driven forum.The GFMD could provide more opportunities for collaboration between governments and other migration stakeholders. While becoming more action-oriented, it should continue to shape the agenda on migration and development and set international priorities among the wide range of issues that demands attention. Toward these ends, the GFMD would benefit from (1) an enhanced linkage with regional fora and processes; (2) a more dynamic people-to-people networking platform where policymakers can find partners, pilot projects, test ideas, and develop policy and programmatic tools; and (3) a more focused, action-oriented, and results-driven process for the next five years. This brief argues that although the Global Forum on Migration and Development was primarily designed as a venue for changing the discourse on migration, the success of its efforts to date and the pressing need for progress on the ground both indicate that it is time to assess how the Forum can facilitate concrete action.

Effectiveness Review: Improving Socio-Economic Conditions of Paddy Farmers in East Sri Lanka

October 16, 2013

The "Improving socio-economic conditions of paddy farmers in East Sri Lanka" project aims to contribute to conflict mitigation and recovery in the north and east districts of Sri Lanka. Specific project activities included renovation of large-scale infrastructure, including rehabilitation of dams and irrigation schemes. This was supported by interventions to positively affect the paddy value-chain, such as establishing producer organisations, improving access to value-added processing, promotion of organic fertilisers and crop insurance. These full and summary reports document the findings of a quasi-experimental impact evaluation carried out in March 2013.

Putting the Pieces Together for Good Governance of REDD+: An Analysis of 32 REDD+ Country Readiness Proposals

April 17, 2013

Developing countries are receiving new financial and technical support to design and implement programs that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (referred to as REDD+). Reducing emissions from forest cover change requires transparent, accountable, inclusive, and coordinated systems and institutions to govern REDD+ programs. Two multilateral initiatives -- the World Bank-administered Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (UN-REDD Programme) -- are supporting REDD+ countries to become "ready" for REDD+ by preparing initial strategy proposals, developing institutions to manage REDD+ programs, and building capacity to implement REDD+ activities. This paper reviews 32 REDD+ readiness proposals submitted to these initiatives to understand overall trends in how eight elements of readiness (referred to in this paper as readiness needs) are being understood and prioritized globally. Specifically, we assess whether the readiness proposals (i) identify the eight readiness needs as relevant for REDD+, (ii) discuss challenges and options for addressing each need, and (iii) identify next steps to be implemented in relation to each need. Our analysis found that the readiness proposals make important commitments to developing effective, equitable, and well-governed REDD+ programs. However, in many of the proposals these general statements have not yet been translated into clear next steps.

Elusive Peace, Pervasive Violence: Sri Lankan Women's Struggle for Security and Justice

March 1, 2013

The 8th brief in ICAN's "What the Women Say" series focuses on women in Sri Lanka's northern provinces in the aftermath of war. Drawing on a survey conducted in ten war-torn districts and discussions with over 450 women, it eflects on women's legal gains and their activism for peace and human rights while also highlighting the critical security, economic and social risks that many women face.