Urgent message of LGBTQI+ activist wins award for best messaging

July 7, 2021

A video message featuring LGBTQI+ activist Jairo from Guyana has won the High Flyer Award for best messaging by a development organization. The video was produced as part of the Right Here Right Now program by Rutgers, the Netherlands center of expertise on sexuality, and Hivos. Right Here Right Now supports young activists from different countries in their ardent defense of sexual and reproductive rights.

The High Flyer Award is awarded annually by the Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication to development organizations that move beyond traditional campaigns and represent people’s own voices and power without resorting to stereotypes.

I have to be a part of that change for my society.

“This is amazing news, I’m elated,” said Jairo in response to the award. “At the end of the video I say: ‘use your voice and make it heard.’ This video has done just that. My experience, and that of other LGBTQI+ people in Guyana, has been heard globally. Getting this award is an amazing feeling, not just for me, but for all the young advocates in Right Here Right Now.”

Jairo fights for the sexual and reproductive rights of young people. He travels to the most remote regions of Guyana in South America to talk to healthcare workers about the stigma and prejudices young LGBTQI+ people face daily. Jairo inspires other young people to speak up for better healthcare and appropriate information about sexual health and sexuality. In the short animated documentary, An important voice message from Jairo, he explains the importance of this work in his own words.

A huge recognition of our work

The award is a huge recognition for the work we have done with Rutgers in Right Here Right Now from 2015 to 2020. Together with local partner organizations, we supported and promoted the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in eleven countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We are very proud of the fact that the jury valued the video’s honest and direct style of communication.

“With this short documentary, we wanted to emphasize the power of young activists,” said Rose Koenders, Global Manager of Right Here Right Now. “In the first five years of our partnership, over 1600 young people spoke out against laws that limited their freedoms. They took the lead and are definitely not victims. That’s exactly what we wanted to show in Jairo’s story.”

Rights under pressure

The sexual rights and health of young people in Latin America are under pressure. In many countries conservative forces are making it harder for vulnerable groups, like young members of the LGBTQI+ community, to gain access to these rights. The Covid-19 crisis has worsened their situation and makes it harder to speak out.

“Human rights organizations are suffering from the effects of the pandemic,” explains Karen Hammink, Sexual Rights and Diversity Specialist at Hivos. “They need more support to speak out against exclusion and to reach vulnerable groups. But funding for these organizations is dwindling, and new funding opportunities are being suspended. That’s why we’re doing all we can to support these organizations, especially now. Young people and LGBTQI+ people have to be visible in order to influence the sexual and reproductive health policies that directly affect them.”

The short documentary ‘An important voice message from Jairo’ was created together with VICE+, the media branch of VICE Media Group