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Hivos strives for a world where everyone has the right to be who they really are. Let’s celebrate diversity, not fight it. #PeopleUnlimited

Creating spaces of dignity

Ana Helena Chacón is the former vice president of Costa Rica; a passionate woman who leads the fight to advance the position of members of the LGBTI+ community in her own country and well beyond. As Chacón explains, “People of the LGBT community have always existed, but today they have to demand their rightful place in society, which has always been denied them.”

We are human beings, no matter what collective we belong to.

Hivos is a proud partner of Ms. Chacón. Together we have worked to end gender violence, improve living conditions of people with HIV/AIDS and increase acceptance of sexual diversity. Or as Chacón puts it, “Hivos has been a wonderful ally for many years that finances key projects to change culture, to advance education, to put people who have been ignored for too long in the foreground.”

LGBT community
Ana Helena Chacón, photo: Makmende Media / Hivos

Ms. Chacón is on a mission to redress the consequences of long-standing discrimination. “There has been a historical position of disdain and stigma for those people who don’t represent what society demanded of them,” she explains. Something she experiences in her own life as well. “As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, I too have felt like a minority. And I have tried to create a space of dignity in this society for her. And that is what I try to do for all people.”

Her tireless efforts are driven by a clear sense of urgency. “Our society wins if a boy or girl who feels attracted to the same sex, or wants to transform their gender, can do this without being humiliated, hurt or afraid and without thinking of death. The suicide rates amongst these youths are high everywhere in the world, and Costa Rica is no exception.”

A network of friends

One of the organizations both Ana Helena Chacón and Hivos are supporting is Transvida. A network that improves the quality of life of transgender women in Costa Rica and tries to eradicate the social stigma they face. With our support, the organization was able to formalize its status as a civil organization and develop its lobby and advocacy skills.

transvida

Chacón values Transvida both as fellow advocates and friends. “They have been bullied out of their schools and have little education, but now some of them have gone back to high school and three of them are in university. They are fighters, courageous and, most importantly, they are my friends.”