Senior leaders of the UN System participate in SOGI workshops at UNHQ for the first time & other updates
For the first time in UNHQ, at the invitation of UN-GLOBE, Under-Secretary-Generals (USGs), Assistant Secretary-Generals (ASGs), and senior managers of the UN system attended 3 workshops dedicated exclusively to LGBTI issues, to concepts such as gender expression, gender identity and the meaning of queer,.
The workshops were also an opportunity to engage in frank discussions with UN-GLOBE on the current realities for LGBTI staff in the field.
I attended all 3 workshops and can say that for quite a number of attendees, a number of the issues we discussed, such as the need for the UN to be a place LGBTI staff can call a safe haven, was revelatory to them.
I believe that it was a good first step to get senior leaders to understand issues related to sexual or gender identity, in a way that goes a bit deeper than any public reciting about their support for the equality of all people.
The first workshop was targeted to USGs and ASGs, and was attended by the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; the USG for Field Support, Mr. Atul Khare; the ASG for Field Support, Ms. Lisa Buttenheim; and the ASG, Assistant Administrator for UNDP, Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán.
The other workshops were attended by D1s and D2s from UNDP, UNICEF, DFS, DPA, as well as the ASG for Safety and Security, Ms. Fadzai Gwaradzimba.
In addition to the frank discussions on issues, participants also engaged in a series of exercises such as matching terms with their meanings; taking a quiz on human rights standards; or hearing testimonials from gay and trans staff members.
We hope to be able to do more of these workshops later this year, both in New York and Geneva. I would also really like to do these workshops with senior leaders of the peacekeeping missions, and UN offices in countries with high levels of homophobic and transphobic incidents. I will keep you posted.
I am grateful to the UN Cares team leader, Laurie Newell, for facilitating these workshops, and for being a great partner during the organizing stage. The LGBTI workshop was part of the UN for All trainings on diversity from UN Cares. I hope we can continue to collaborate together.
In other developments, please know that the UN-GLOBE Working Group on Trans and Intersex issues continues to develop recommendations for an inclusive workplace for trans staff, and for intersex staff. We hope we can share these with senior leaders of the UN system in the fall.
In the meantime, we continue working hard to bring the LGBTI voice from inside the UN in places such as Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Mozambique, the North Africa region, and the South East Asian region to name a few.
If you are serving in a peacekeeping mission, or UN office in a country where instances of homophobia and transphobia are known to be high, and want to help, please get in touch. You can reach us at UN-GLOBE firstname.lastname@example.org, or myself at email@example.com
I will continue to keep you informed.
Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)