Esther Adhiambo sees her position in society as a mother, aunt, sister, leader and mentor. She has been in the Lesbian Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) movement for close to 8 years now, having previously worked at the Persons Marginalised and Aggrieved Kenya (PEMA Kenya) organisation and now at the Initiative for Equality and Non-Discrimination (INEND).
‘’Every day when I wake up, I am always inspired to make a difference in the world we live in. This is closely related to the generally negative perception of sexual minorities such as LBQ Women in society. I want us to be treated as human beings and not second class citizens. To counter this, I have worked with religious leaders in Mombasa County to reduce violence against sexual minorities.
As a woman, I have received a lot of pushback in male-dominated spaces as I go about my work championing for the rights of LBQ women. I have dealt with attitudes where at first glance someone treats you as a sexual object because you are a woman. Pushing your agenda in patriarchal cultures, especially as a sexual minority, is not easy. These challenges have only motivated me to continue push for the cause I believe in. Women cannot continue to be seat-fillers in society; we must also have an opportunity to participate equally as men.
My biggest win in the LBQ movement has been the acceptance of sexual minorities by religious leaders in Mombasa County. This was not an easy journey, but I was able to overcome the obstacles. My constant plea to them was that equal human rights apply to all human beings regardless of their sexual orientation and identity. Happily, the end result of these relationships has been a reduction in violence against sexual minorities in the County.
Hivos East Africa has been a friend and partner in the movement for quite a long time. I am partly who I am today thanks to their support in leadership and mentorship. I draw a lot of courage from their boldness as an organisation to work in spaces which are not always familiar or friendly.”
10 years from now, I want to see myself as a person who created change in Mombasa County and a thought leader in the LBQ spaces.’’