In December of this year, Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO implemented the Public Policy and Civic Education School, which was produced under the Core Grants Program with the financial support of the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability, and Security Funds, through a sub-grant from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). This was the first school implemented in school in the Republic of Armenia aiming to provide an opportunity for members of the Trans and LGBIQ+ community to gain new knowledge about organizational management, public policy, law, advocacy, debates, speeches, interviews, participation in politics, as well as give skills to contribute to representing the organization, development of strategic communication, project management, staff management, event planning, text analysis, etc.

55 Trans and LGBTQ+ people applied to participate in the Public Policy and Civic Education School, including people who moved from Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia, as well as members of the LGBTIQ community from different countries who sought asylum in the Republic of Armenia, from which 30 people were selected following the principle of diversity—the involvement of participants with different sexual orientations, gender identities, and experiences.

At the start of the school, the founder and president of the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO  Lilit Martirosyan addressed the participants with a speech, expressing her gratitude for the great interest in the school and the motivation to gain new knowledge. Experts with many years of experience in the fields of political science, human rights, and advocacy were invited to the Public Policy and Civic Education School as experts, who joined their efforts to develop the agenda of the school – divided into two 5-day courses, during which lectures, simulation exercises, and practical tasks took place on the following topics: 

  • Human rights and their protection mechanisms,
  • Advocacy,
  • International organizations as a promoting link of human rights protection,
  • Public policy,
  • Working with government agencies,
  • Participation in elections, decision-making of local self-government bodies,
  • Organizational management and leadership,
  • Decision making,
  • Strategic communication,
  • Framing of messages,
  • Formulation of public speech on LGBTIQ+ people’s problems,
  • Organization of campaigns and events,
  • Debate, speech, interview.

Each day of the camp was structured so that the actual lecture, practical tasks, and simulation exercises followed each other, ensuring the full involvement and interest of the participants. Below we have highlighted some of the participants’ impressions of the school.

“I liked that they gave us different advocacy skills, through which we can express our ideas better, and engage in activism. I will single out the speech formulation and public speaking course, I was very good at it, and I will use the knowledge I have gained in the future.”

“It was very important for me that I was selected to attend the Public Policy and Civic Education School, and based on the legal knowledge I received here, I will be able to defend myself in the police as well as in public places.”

“This time it was done in a school format and I liked it, because in this way I was able to get deeper knowledge about philosophy, politics, hormone therapy, and other topics, and I also met many new and interesting people from the LGBTIQ community.”

By implementing this educational program, Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO promoted the capacity building of members of the LGBTIQ+ community and provided an opportunity to actively participate in decision-making processes at the local and state levels. The most active participants received incentive gifts in different nominations during the program. At the end of the school, Lilit Martirosyan, the founder and president of Right Side NGO, presented certificates to all the participants. We should also note that from now on, all school graduates have the opportunity to participate in the advocacy meetings organized by the team of  Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO, during which they will meet with experts from the embassies, and local and international civil society organizations, to achieve a positive change in LGBTIQ+ issues.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author/s/ and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the UK Government or the views of IWPR.

 December 27, 2023 Armenia, Yerevan


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