Rainbow Academy is RFSL’s platform for international trainings – a space for LGBTQ activists to come together, and grow together. Rainbow Academy offers a variety of customized trainings to groups of leaders and persons with other instrumental roles within the global LGBTQ movement.
A unique training concept
The content of Rainbow Academy’s trainings vary and adjust according to the current needs of LGBTQ organizations across the globe. There are however some common elements that form the foundation of all trainings. Regardless of the subject of the training, RFSLs Rainbow Academy trainings share the following core principles:
- Individual learning is a tool to reach organizational development and growth. RFSL sees LGBTQ people’s own ability to organize as a prerequisite for the advancement of LGBTQ people’s human rights.
- Lasting networks between training participants are important. This is done through integrating spaces for sharing and socializing in the training curriculum. RFSL believes that the personal relationships that form throughout trainings are valuable in sustaining the global movement, as are the formal outputs of the curriculum.
- Consciousness of work/life balance when planning trainings. Activists often experience high levels of stress and burn out. RFSL sees well-being as a key element to achieve successful advocacy and political change. Self-care and stress management is a crosscutting theme in every RFSL training, which is integrated into the schedule itself by being mindful of not “over programming”.
- Learning processes are built on a strength based approach. This method identifies and enhances what individuals and organisations already do well, strengthening the qualities rather than focusing on eliminating what is not working. RFSL acknowledges that each individual and organisation knows their own strengths and how to build on them.
- South/South/East exchange. RFSL sees the importance of trainings taking place in a South/East setting, rather only in the global North/West. Facilitating exchange between South/East activists, for example by hosting activities in a South/East setting, is an important tool in strengthening networks and contributing to building confidence and community.
The next training within Rainbow Academy is Rainbow Fundraising, a regional training for LGBTQ organisations in the Western Balkans. The training will take place in Macedonia, 14th-20th of October.
Between 2013-2016, 120 activists from 30 different countries took part of Rainbow Leaders training, which is the most comprehensive training experience that has been offered so far. The program had a great impact on a vast majority of the participants; a diverse and impressive group of people tirelessly dedicated to LGBTQ rights in even the harshest environments. Rainbow Leaders is designed to enhance the skills and capacities of leaders in the dynamic and diverse global movement for LGBTQ rights, so that these leaders can excel in their work in advancing human rights for all.
The focus for the participants has been capacity training and finding tools and practices to manage, sustain and guide the organisations they represent. It has also been about increasing knowledge in securing LGBTQ rights in local, regional and international arenas and increasing access to sustainable networks of collaborators, allies and strategic support systems. A main curriculum component that is present throughout the training is Appreciative Inquiry – a strength-based perspective on leadership that focuses on motivating and empowering human resources. Other parts of the training include international law and SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression), Logical Framework Approach, Monitoring and Evaluation and fundraising.
Community Leaders Training
The Eastern Coalition for LGBT Equality is a project where LGBTQ organizations in Sweden the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine) and Russia collaborate, with the aim to counter homophobia and transphobia in the region and to build a strong transnational LGBTQ movement. The project is coordinated by RFSL and funded by Sida.
Together with seven organizations in the region RFSL organizes a Community Leadership Training for activists. The training aims at strengthening activists, staff, volunteers, and others that works with community and grass root organizations. The training is a course in learning to be an appreciative leader, with tools and knowledge to build and strengthen movements on a grass root level. The training includes participants from eight countries in the region, with the possibility to share experiences and get new contacts that can result in better networks and professional contacts with others working in the same field.
The training is for persons who are working with projects within the community. It can be as a project manger, volunteer coordinator, or persons that are already engaged in the work but who need new or better skills to work with volunteers, community groups, project planning, leadership methods etc.
In February 2017, 20 participants from South-and Southeast Asia met in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and shared experiences and best-practice in working with crowd-funding, institutional donors as well as other fundraising strategies.
As always in Rainbow Academy trainings, emphasis was put on creating a generous atmosphere with lots of opportunities for participants to exchange expertise. Conditions, laws, organizing and context differ widely between countries in the region, and therefore no ready-made answers were presented during the training. The focus was to provide participants with a toolbox of different methods for resource mobilization.
Four external expert facilitators contributed to the sharing of knowledge and a wide range of topics were covered including digital campaigning, proposal writing and tackling donor dependency.
Meet the Alumni
The Rainbow Leaders Alumni are tirelessly contributing to a better world for all. Meet three of them and get a first hand view of LGBTQ activism and what Rainbow Leaders has meant for them.
Co-founder of Raiz Disidencia Sexual in Peru.
I became a better leader through my experiences with the Rainbow Leaders program.
Most of all it helped me develop my confidence and empathy and strengthened my ability to work with a diversity of people and civil society activists. My community work has led to me being elected as a young representative. I work both as a General Secretary of Lima´s Metropolitan Council of Youth Participation and as a member of the Directive Council of the National Youth Councils Assembly. The two platforms has lead to an involvement with the new government around the National Youth Agenda, The agenda includes public policy proposals for young LGBTI people, and laws for protecting gender identity as well as laws against discrimination and hate crimes directed at LGBTI people.
Latin America in general has a lot of conservative governments and Peru is no exception. Despite that, we still see progress. Over the last years, due to strong LGBTI movements, we see progress with law projects against hate crimes and civil unions. We see a lot of possibilities for continuing progress, both in laws and through public policies, because of our dynamic movements, which are full of new and powerful young activists and activisms.
Leigh Ann van der Merwe
Founder of and coordinator of social health and empowerment in South Africa.
When I went to the Rainbow Leaders training program in 2013 I saw the positive effects immediately. Back then we were still a small and new organisation. I learned so much around financial management by talking to other leaders and doing budgets; linking salaries to projects, monitoring and evaluating projects and identifying programs.
A break through was our first grant that we received after the training from a donor with whom we had had negotiations for almost two years.
It made a huge difference. Another equally important achievement was the networking with other leaders. For the first time were able to grow as an organisation. Today we are 22 staff members and we have created three big programs: arts and culture, the feminist program and health and well-being.
We are a feminist organisation and we make sure that is our cornerstone in organizational development. Even though we work with everyone; trans women, trans men and the whole LGBT community, we focus only on trans women when it comes to our advocacy and political work. There is a very strong general notion that trans women are supposed to only appear as participants in beauty pageant or as sex workers, whereas trans men are seen to work with funding. We want to change that. Our work is never done. But it’s constantly changing in a positive direction. During the time when we started mobilizing for our work there was only one organisation headed by trans women. Now we have six organisations on the African continent.
Founder of a support group for transgender people in Bosnia.
The training was one of the best I have ever attended. It was very well structured, intense and I learned a lot of organizational and communicational techniques. Apart from the learning I also had an amazing experience with amazing people.
Right after the training we initiated a support group for transgender people in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Sarajevo Open Centre.
The group developed very well and we arranged a lot of activities. The most important thing was the gathering in itself; sharing our stories within a group where everybody felt safe. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the situation is very bad when it comes to transgender rights. We don’t have health services that provide LGBTI professional care, so we are often forced to go to a neighbouring country for help, which costs a lot. Far from everybody can afford it. Also, being transgender is a big taboo. It is very difficult for transgender people, especially the young ones, to be out to their families and friends.