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LGBTQIA+ community finds economic solution in GALZ

30/11/2022

LGBTQIA community finds economic solution in GALZWhat are the best options for the LGBTQIA community when tackling the economical unstable decades we live in?

by Mambaonline.com

30-11-2022 16:57

in LGBTQIA

GALZ, said to be Africa's oldest LGBTQIA organisation, was founded in 1990, with the mandate to promote, advocate and protect the livelihoods and interests of LGBTQIA people in Zimbabwe. Photo: PEXELS

Zimbabwe has been wracked by economic instability for decades. What then are the options for LGBTQIA people who are often marginalised and excluded from the already limited employment and economic opportunities that do exist?

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GALZ, said to be Africa's oldest LGBTQIA organisation, was founded in 1990, with the mandate to promote, advocate and protect the livelihoods and interests of LGBTQIA people in Zimbabwe. In addition, the group provides HIV and health services to this community.

It does this despite historical incidents of harassment and abuse by the state, the continued criminalisation of homosexuality and political populism that has often painted a false picture of the LGBTQIA community.

In discussion with Samuel Matsikure, GALZ's Program Manager, we learned that GALZ is now also set on addressing the exclusion of LGBTQIA Zimbabweans from the mainstream economy. But this is no easy task; not only because of decades of social stigmatisation but also the harsh economic realities facing the country.

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According to the 2017 Situation Analysis Report of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country has had a very fragile economy characterised by instability, which often led to shortages of the country's currency and commodities.

ALSO READ: Survey shows the majority of the LGBTQIA community is single

In addition, the labour market had a record-high unemployment rate of 90.1%, causing many people to leave Zimbabwe to find better economic opportunities and asylum elsewhere.

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Many LGBTQIA children drop out of school due to bullying and stigmatisation

The era of Robert Mugabe led to homophobia, and through his campaigns, he ensured that the LGBTQIA community was discriminated against at every opportunity, especially in rural communities, says Matsikure. Thus, it became entrenched in all economic and political structures in Zimbabwe.

Matsikure points out that the roots of economic LGBTQIA exclusion in Zimbabwe start at an early age, with many LGBTQIA children dropping out of school due to bullying and stigmatisation.

When it comes to education, it becomes difficult because of the harassment and isolation by other children, he says, adding that this continues into institutions of higher education. Just two years ago, we did a campus climate survey that showed us that college and college students experience homophobia, discrimination, and stigmatisation from other students.

Matsikure notes that the path to sex work is also a reality for many students as marginalisation forces so many of them to drop out of school. He also points to the many intersections of stigma.

Women in Zimbabwe over the years have not received the same privileges as a boy, especially when it comes to access to education. And if they do not get access to education, that means they are already at a disadvantage in an environment that needs a highly skilled, experienced and educated workforce,

says Matsikure. And if you look at the current economic programmes that are offered either by the state or by institutions, they still think too much in [binary] gender categories. So, it affects different types of women or different types of people depending on their gender. So, you also find that LGBTQIA women experience double stigma and discrimination,

he explains. Many economic opportunities in Zimbabwe are furthermore linked to party politics, says Matsikure. When they are made available, the LGBTQIA community is likely to be excluded. He also points out that LGBTQIA people are at risk of losing their jobs if they are open about who they are, a devastating scenario in a country that has limited employment opportunities.

A path to economic empowerment According to Matsikure, the organisation's focus over the next five years will be on economic development.

As part of its ongoing strategies to address economic inclusion and structural inequities, GALZ recently hosted its first Business Network Summit in partnership with the Bayethe Development Institute and The Other Foundation.

Although GALZ has been a key player in the fight against HIV/AIDS, frustration at the community being viewed only from a sexualised and medicalised perspective was evident through various statements made during the summit.

We have a life to live, money to make, so give us empowerment programs, GALZ counselling psychologist Badza told Pink Advocate.

The ground-breaking summit saw 35 people attending at the GALZ centre in Harare and 113 participating online in other provinces. Many members took to heart the urgent need for economic empowerment programmes.

The summit looked at issues such as the benefits of networking, and entrepreneurship, the importance of funding for LGBTIQA businesses, and access to skills in the pursuit of economic freedom.

While there are some who have managed to start their own businesses, in an economy where everyone is a salesperson, it becomes difficult if they do not have the necessary training and skills or are not taught how to run a business,

says Matsikure. GALZ is working on strategies that focus on building pillars to support and facilitate the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community in mainstream economic activities and employment opportunities, which includes empowering LGBTQIA individuals through training and business networks.

The organisation's Pink Economy initiative, for example, equips LGBTQIA youth with skills suc
LINK: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/culture/lgbtqia/lgbtqia-economic-devel...
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