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In August 2021, “Right Side” Human Rights Defender NGO for the first time implemented the “Voice of Change” youth academy in the RA Lori region, involving Trans LGBIQ youth living in different regions of Armenia. The main goal of the event was to promote the civic participation and social inclusion of young LGBTIQ people in Armenia through developing their activist skills and raising their awareness.
“Due to limited resources, we had to select only 20 people out of one hundred and fifty-nine applicants. I hope that the academy will be continuous in order to ensure the development of the activist skills of all the members of the community and to promote their involvement in social life.”
The official opening of the academy was made by Lilit Martirosyan, President of the organization, who congratulated all the participants on their election, then added that was the first time that such a course was being conducted for the LGBTQI community members, that such an opportunity should be used to be educated, to become stronger, to discover the available resources for activism in the Republic of Armenia, and to be involved in the protection of the interests of the community.
In general, 7 thematic areas were envisaged during the academy:
The participants gained knowledge on human rights and fundamental freedoms, prevention mechanisms of human rights violation cases, leadership and activism, writing and submitting project proposals, got advocacy and campaigning skills, they also received individual consultations from experts on the funding opportunities of developed projects, exchanged individual experiences and new ideas with other members of the community.
“The academy gave me such opportunities that I did not manage to get at school, university, at work. This is a completely new format, now I feel strong and confident with my knowledge.”
For years, Trans LGBIQ people, being discriminated against, have not had the opportunity to visit educational centers, to recognize the cultural heritage of the Republic of Armenia, to reveal their abilities and capacities. That was why the educational element was combined with cognitive visits. Representatives of the community visited innovative and cultural centers in Tavush and Lori regions, such as H. Tumanyan House-Museum, Lori Fortress.
“It has always been a dream for me to visit the cultural centers of the Republic of Armenia, to get acquainted with our culture on the spot. But I could not, I thought that I would be discriminated against, they would not allow me. Thank you for this opportunity.”
The participants had the opportunity to be in the “COAF” SMART Center to discover their intellectual abilities and to expand their learning circles, to participate in discussions and debates in different halls of the Center.
“This innovation center gives me new breath, here I see a safe and prosperous future for all of us.”
At the closing of the academy, the participants received certificates by expressing their willingness to share their experience and knowledge in the future with the participants who could not participate.
This academy was carried out with the financial support the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
Aug 24, 2021 Armenia Yerevan