Strengthening the sensitivity towards MSM of NGO staff working with MSM through training and education

Published: August 1, 2008

Strengthening the sensitivity towards MSM of NGO staff working with MSM through training and education

Issues: MSM work in Cambodia is different from other countries because many people working in MSM projects either don´t identify as MSM or are not really MSM. In a qualitative research commissioned by POLICY Project in 2004 on the vulnerabilities of Cambodian MSM to HIV/AIDS, many respondents reported difficulty in accessing health information and services because of the insensitive attitude and sometimes antagonistic behaviour of NGO staff. Other studies done by other NGOs shared similar findings.

Description: In late 2005, POLICY commissioned the development of a training curriculum that will increase the sensitivity of non-MSM service providers to MSM. Utilizing gender and sexuality concepts, the 2-day curriculum included exercises that re-examined the participants´ values and attitudes towards sexual diversity and provided them accurate information on the physical and social vulnerabilities of Cambodian MSM. After 2 rounds of pre-testing, a Training of Trainers was held in 2006, which had 15 NGO staff as participants, most of whom were self-identifying MSM.

Lessons learned: Local NGOs received this type of training positively. Feedback from the pre-test and ToT showed that participants did begin to examine their thoughts, feelings and actions towards MSM. Many verbalized a commitment to try improving their behaviour towards MSM. Changing people´s attitudes is a long and complicated process. NGO workers, through their position in the community, are able to influence a change in attitudes towards MSM by their own actions. Strengthening their sensitivity to MSM will not only improve their work but also translate to an improved attitude and behaviour of the community to MSM. One limitation of the curriculum, however, is its focus on NGO workers.

Next steps: In late 2007, modifications on this curriculum were begun. The aim is to be able to administer this training to public health providers, police, teachers, and other groups who are in touch with MSM.

-Abstract can be found at link below-

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