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Voice multi-country grantee partners find their way forward at the Global Learning Festival

by Marlou de Rouw, for The Constellation

 

Voice multi-country grantee partners and rightsholders have a shared dream: that of an inclusive world where everybody accesses their rights and lives to their full potential. They all act towards that dream, in their own context and with their own means.

From 22-25 April 2024, they came together at the Global Linking and Learning Festival (GLF)  in Bangkok, Thailand. The Constellation, the Linking and Learning Facilitator for multi-country grantee partners,  organised and facilitated the event themed “Now Us – Celebrating our Contributions towards an Inclusive Society”.

 

Group photo during the Marketplace Event
Group photo during the Marketplace Event

 

The event brought together grantee partners and representatives from 13 countries. The festival concluded the two-year Linking and Learning journey of multi-country grantee partners and celebrated the eighth and final year of the Voice programme. Participants looked at how the learnings from this journey could be a jumpstart for new initiatives– and that is how a closing event became a joyful opportunity for a new start. 

 

Throughout the week, Voice grantee partners from Asia and Africa converged, exchanging their narratives and sharing their experiences in working with various vulnerable groups, including LGBTQIA+ communities, women and children, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, and persons with disabilities. This diverse gathering fostered an environment of mutual understanding, solidarity and collective learning.

 

The first day set the tone for learning from each other. As the Linking and Learning journey started 22 months ago, mostly online, there was a fertile ground for friendship and deep sharing far beyond geographical, cultural and linguistic borders.

 

Carol Kokos (left) from Chepkitale, Kenya presenting Boititap Korenyo (Wealth of our Land): "Humanity is Inclusion"
Carol Kokos (left) from Chepkitale, Kenya presenting Boititap Korenyo (Wealth of our Land): “Humanity is Inclusion”

 

 “I feel empowered. One thing I have learned so much is: Humanity is Inclusion. And humanity should be our culture. And that is what I will be applying when I go back home to Kenya.” –  Carol Kokos

 

The second day was a dynamic, engaging, and, yes, wonderfully noisy learning exchange. The agenda? To dive deep into the essence of mindful inclusion, to share and reflect on the rich lessons learned and to sharpen our thematic focus on advocacy as we strive to work together seamlessly.

 

The discussions were vibrant and spirited, guiding towards a mutual understanding of the importance of respecting our individual spaces while recognising the power of our collective efforts. Participants delved into insightful recommendations, sparking conversations around the ways we can integrate cross-sectional and mindfully inclusive approaches in our onward journey.

 

A snapshot from the rounds of conversation
A snapshot from the rounds of conversation

 

As the day wrapped up, it was clear: there is a commitment to fostering an environment where every voice is heard, every perspective valued. This conclusion was celebrated during a colorful cruise on the Chao Phraya river.

 

The third day presented the unique opportunity for grantee partners to showcase their work and share the remarkable strides made during the Linking & Learning process and each in their own context. At the Marketplace, stakeholders and partners including  local government, Voice steering committee, UN organisations and civil society representatives visited two rounds of market stands that brought them to the very local context of rightsholders in all their diversity.

 

One of the vibrant stands during the marketplace event
One of the vibrant stands during the marketplace event

 

Mr. Christiaan Bergwerff, Deputy Head of the Political and Economic Affairs, Royal Dutch Embassy, sharing his message at the GLF.
Mr. Christiaan Bergwerff, Deputy Head of the Political and Economic Affairs, Royal Dutch Embassy, sharing his message at the GLF.

 

Guest of honor was Mr. Christiaan Bergwerff, Deputy Head of the Political and Economic Affairs from the Royal Dutch Embassy: “I would like to congratulate you for your incredible work – your impact has been resounding, was his message of appreciation. 

 

With some dancing on the side!
With some dancing on the side!

 

The fourth and last was for opening new doors. Grantee partners sketched their future and also worked out joint action plans, small steps towards the shared vision of an inclusive society. The event itself demonstrated that inclusion is possible, if only we could live on a larger scale what we experienced within the safe space of the GLF grounds in Bangkok.  

 

 

Naphat Krutthai (right) from APCOM with Bryon Neill (Babaylanes) sharing best practice from their joint project "(IM)PART: Advocating for LGBTQI Social and Economic Inclusion"
Naphat Krutthai (right) from APCOM with Bryon Neill (Babaylanes) sharing best practice from their joint project “(IM)PART: Advocating for LGBTQI Social and Economic Inclusion”

 

“The GLF creates a unique space for individuals from around the world to come together, inspire one another, and gain new perspectives on how to collectively shift the world towards a more inclusive reality, leaving no one behind. It is a testament to the power of unity, collaboration, and the unwavering commitment to upholding the dignity and rights of all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances

… It encourages the exchange of lessons learned and the proposal of a way forward, guided by the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us” – a rallying cry that underscores the importance of self-representation and empowerment.

Through this transformative event, participants had the opportunity to forge lasting connections, shared best practices, and co-created innovative solutions that can drive positive change. By celebrating our collective contributions, we not only honored the progress made but also reignited our shared resolve to create a world where diversity is embraced, and every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

– APCOM Facebook post

 

Participants in small groups, looking into ways forward
Participants in small groups, looking into ways forward

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