“Every space that we can go to and make our presence felt is an opportunity”


Through the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), we can follow up the progress with the global goals and make sure that the UN member states are keeping their promises. During the conference, RFSL is working to ensure that the lives and experiences of LGBTQI people are made visible.

HLPF is a top meeting where governments, UN agencies, representatives from business and civil society participate to follow up the work with the Sustainable Development Goals. Through Voluntary National Reviews, countries can present their progress with sustainable development, what lessons they have learned and what challenges they face ahead.

Every year, the fulfillment of various goals during the conference is also reviewed. During this edition of HLPF, 5 different goals are reviewed:

  • goal 4, quality education
  • goal 5, gender equality
  • goal 14, life below water
  • goal 15, life on land
  • goal 17, partnership for the goals

Activists and civil society can participate in several different ways during the HLPF. For example, several governments send delegations to the conference. Participants from different sectors are often invited to join the delegations, including civil society. This year, RFSL’s international advocacy advisor, Rashima Kwatra, participated in the official Swedish delegation. Rashima had the honor of delivering a statement focusing on gender equality on behalf of the Swedish delegation. In the statement she raised, among other things, people’s right to their bodies.

– Wars and conflicts have been, and continue to be waged, not only in their devastatingly literal sense, and at the cost of sustainable development, but also against women’s, girls’, LGBTI persons, and all peoples’ rights to their bodily autonomy, Rashima said in her statement.

RFSL also works to make LGBTQI activists from Global South visible in these contexts. This year, for example, we supported Gabriela Zavaleta Vera, from the organization Más Igualdad in Peru. She thinks it is important that LGBTQI activists participate in HLPF.

Every space that we can go to and make our presence felt is an opportunity and an advantage we should make use of. Many people think that we shouldn’t be allowed in certain spaces or that our issues don’t matter, so when we as LGBTQI activists participate in these decision-making spaces, we can impact the decisions that are taken there, Gabriela explains.

– Gabriela is also one of over 40 activists who have attended RFSL’s Rainbow Advocacy Program (RAP). RAP is a training program in human rights, sustainable development and advocacy work at UN level. An important part of the program is practical experience, the activists get the opportunity to travel to both the UN headquarters in Geneva and New York, where they make statements and actively participate in UN conferences.

To be part of the RAP was one of the best experiences of my life. What I got to learn and the people I got to meet until now was invaluable. The experience has really expanded me as an activist and as a professional, Gabiela says.

This year’s edition against HLPF is coming to an end, but the work for LGBTQ people’s rights continues. If you also want to learn more about how we can include LGBTQI people in the work with sustainable development, you can find resources here.