Unity in Diversity: A Case Study on the Achievements, Good Practices and Lessons Learned from the Consortium of MSM and Transgender Networks

Published: May 10, 2018

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MSMGF is proud to announce the release of “Unity in Diversity, A Case Study on the Achievements, Good Practices and Lessons Learned from the Consortium of MSM and Transgender Networks”.

The Consortium is an international partnership consisting of ten regional and global networks of advocates, including MSMGF as the technical lead organization. The Consortium is dedicated to the sexual health and human rights needs of men who have sex with men and transgender people in the global HIV epidemic response. Coordination of effort in advocacy is needed now more than ever, given decreasing investments in community-led HIV services and increases in stigma, discrimination, and violence our communities face.

“As individual networks we work hard to make a difference and improve the quality of life, like a stream that nourishes a meadow. Our networks working together in a Consortium are like many streams coming together to form a powerful river which can easily break through mountains.” – Elie Ballan of  M-Coalition.

The Consortium was started in 2013 in response to major challenges facing men who have sex with men and transgender people worldwide. These challenges persist today and include human rights violations and HIV related disparities. These challenges are worsened by funding cuts, gaps in technical and organizational capacity, and sub-optimal community engagement in decision-making processes.

Unity in Diversity describes the Consortium’s good practices and lessons learned. It is framed around the Consortium’s eight key achievements in the areas HIV, sexual health and human rights. Critical issues highlighted in the report include:

  • Raising awareness about the disproportionate impact HIV is having on men who have sex with men and transgender people;
  • Enhancing the quality of HIV, sexual health and human rights programmes;
  • Expanding advocacy action at the regional and global levels;
  • Strengthening technical and advocacy capacity of networks through small grants;
  • Raising the profile of under-addressed or emerging within HIV sexual health and human rights;
  • Strategizing ways to work more effectively and safely within hostile policy environments;
  • Elevating the individual and collective voices and roles regional and global networks play in the global HIV response; and
  • Reducing competition and enhancing financial sustainability for networks and programmes led by men who have sex with men and transgender people.

The Consortium is funded by the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF) – a mechanism that was set up in recognition of the critical role regional and global networks play in the global HIV response. RCNF provides both core and project funding, enabling Consortium members to not only implement interventions, but strengthen their organizations.

“The core funding from Robert Carr has allowed us to continue to engage in our capacity building work regionally and globally. Our ability to share information with IRGT members and the regional trainings that we have engaged in has had a synergistic effect on small grants received from other partners”.  – JoAnne Keatley of  IRGT.

Within this ever-changing context, the unique role of global and regional networks led by men who have sex with men and transgender people is critical to coordinated action that can be implemented at scale. Together, networks are stronger and their impact amplified. It continues to be clear that networks can achieve much more together – pooling experience, expertise and energy, as a force that provides unity in diversity

“We see the Consortium as a driving force for strengthening the member networks, and to learn how we remain relevant. We don’t have much time, and we need to build the future right now.” – Sergio Lopez of SomosGay

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