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Nicole Sterling, YouthActionNet Intern, Studies Role of Youth in Empowering Trans Communities Worldwide

Nicole Sterling | February 16, 2017

Towson University student Nicole Sterling with mentor, YouthActionNet alumnus and Towson University Anthropology Professor Harjant Gill

As a YouthActionNet intern with an interest in LGBTQ rights, I’m exploring how transgender communities internationally compare to transgender communities in the United States. To increase my understanding, I’ve studied the work of two YouthActionNet fellows—Mowmita Basak Mow from Bangladesh and Aditya Gupta from India—focusing on how they are affecting change in trans communities. My previous blog post was on Building LGBTQ Inclusive Workplaces, so be sure to check it out if you are interested in this topic.

Mowmita Basak Mow, Bangladesh

In a Bangladeshi government policy announced November 11, 2013, Hijras (individuals identifying as neither male nor female) were granted the right to identify themselves as a separate and distinct gender from the binary norm on all official documents. This legislation was created to address discrimination the Hijra community faced.

Mowmita, co-founder of Center for Leadership Assistance & Promotion (CLAP) Foundation, is an advocate for social inclusion. Since 2010, Mowmita has worked to share her passionate views regarding minority rights. CLAP strives to build a more inclusive community, as well as advocate for transgender rights. One of the ways they work to achieve this is by offering trainings to educate students at schools, colleges, and universities about gender discrimination and external factors that threaten women and social, ethnic, and religious minorities.

Hijra community members face significant discrimination, specifically in employment, due to the discrimination of their gender. Therefore, many Hijras are in poverty and struggle to have their basic needs met. CLAP recruits individuals to help break this barrier to be more accepted in the Bangladesh society.  Through CLAP’s signature project, “Gender Glitch,” the organization advocated for the rights of Hijras by educating students about gender discrimination in schools, colleges, and universities.  Mowmita says, “The change has to come through us, it’s time to think, and it’s time to act.” In addition to working in the trans community in Bangladesh, Mowmita also works for women’s rights.

Learn more about CLAP at: www.clapbangladesh.org

Aditya Gupta, India

As a nation, India also recognizes the transgender community as the third gender called Hijra.

Aditya Gupta works to educate individuals on gender-based violence issues in Delhi, India. Aditya co-founded the People For Parity Foundation (PFP). Says Aditya, “Our mainstream education system does not cover gender education at all, there are lots of cultural norms and beliefs that promote gender based violence and discrimination.”

The main issues faced by the Hija community include equal job opportunities, equal rights, and social acceptance. PFP strives to open the minds of individuals by helping them rise above discriminatory social norms and views that surround gender, to create a more inclusive world for all people.

The organization provides workshops and concentrated six-month fellowship programs on gender, violence, and rights in low-income communities in Delhi, Jaipur, and Bhopal. Aditya has provided gender education programs to over 6,000 youth. By working to curb gender-based violence in India, PFP engages youth by creating a deeper understanding of gender violence in their communities, as well as engaging police, schools, and universities in the movement.

In addition to the resources PFP provides, with his background in IT, Aditya has measured a 90% success rate of increasing gender acceptance among participants.  Says Aditya, “PFP creates gender-peaceful changemakers in diverse communities, who in turn take up transformative dialogue and action.”

Learn more about PFP at: www.peopleforparity.org

As a student who engages in activism, it was interesting to learn how other youth worldwide are channeling their passion for social inclusion in different ways. Both Mowmita and Aditya work to changes perspectives on gender by educating on gender equality. With the proper education, there is a greater possibility to unite all groups of people.