SPARK! Change: On the journey in Kiribati
By YVC Secretariat – Friday, March 6, 2020
In 2019, Youth Voices Count in consortium with the Boutokaan Inaomataia ao Mauriia Binabinaine Association (BIMBA, Inc.) initiated the project called “SPARK! CHANGE: Consultation Meetings on the Development of a Community Advocacy Toolkit for organizations working on Sexuality and Gender Issues for Children and Youth in Kiribati. This project was graciously funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). The outcome of the consultation became the publication that we are now releasing entitled, “SPARK! Change: On the journey in Kiribati”.
The process for this project involves the organizing a three-day consultation meeting/workshop in North and South Tarawa with local groups such as civil society organizations, women’s organizations, LGBTIQ organizations, child rights organizations, sexual and reproductive health organizations, environmental and climate change organizations, youth organizations, academics and educational institutions, human rights organizations, local government agencies, private sector and other activists and advocates.
The consortium secured the expertise of a consultant, Dr. Mark Henrickson, to develop the publication. According to him, the most important aspect of this process is “seeing progress in the ways gender and sexuality are managed in their agencies, organisations, departments, and in the country generally. The stories that participants told were powerful testimonies to their courage and commitment to change”. Moving forward Mark sees hope that his experience will, “serve as a model for other Pacific Island countries—and particularly the smaller ones— to do similar things in their own nations”.
The next steps in the Spark! Change journey is to hopefully rollout the publication in Kiribati. We can only say that this project is successful if the toolkit will be used by the communities and organizations that need it the most. We also hope to organize consultations in other Pacific island-countries and develop similar toolkits. At least for this one, the journey in Kiribati continues.
BIMBA, Inc. member, Levita Levi, considers this toolkit important for civil society organizations. She believes that some people still, “do not understand the importance of having another gender instead of female and male (meaning transgender individuals) so it is important to tell them how important human rights are for LGBTQ community members