Across the Asia Pacific region, the LGBTI+ community faces many challenges, including criminalization, lack of adequate legal protections and hostile public attitudes that can result in widespread discrimination and stigma. This includes, but is not limited to, workplace discrimination, bullying in schools, and lack of access to essential healthcare services.
People from all backgrounds must be heard and included, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to realize the aim of an inclusive society truly.
Young people advancing LGBTI+ representation and inclusion in the Asia Pacific lack spaces where they can share their perspectives and voices to solve challenges related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or intersex status. A report commissioned by UNESCO and UNDP, "Mapping and Review of online resources for, and perceived needs among Vulnerable and Marginalized Young People in the Asia-Pacific Region on Digital Literacy, Safety and Participation", states that young LGBTI+ people must be given a seat at the table as key decision makers in forwarding digital literacy across their communities.
Social Entrepreneurship offers young people who identify as part of the LGBTI+ community a voice and empowers them to create jobs and provide solutions to their community’s challenges. Diversity and inclusion are crucial to building a world where people can interact as equals and take pride in their identity.
As a reflection on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), under the theme, "Together always: United in Diversity" and as we celebrate Pride Month this June, our Youth Co:Lab alumni share four insights on ways youth entrepreneurship advances gender inclusion and empowers the LGBTI+ community.
Young entrepreneurs are vocal about issues concerning the LGBTI+ community.
Youth entrepreneurship can be an avenue for creating wider gender inclusion. We (youth) are vocal about the issues that matter, and we are passionate when it comes to working for them."
- Megha Mehra (she/her), Founder of AIQA Foundation (India)
Youth entrepreneurship is an avenue for transgender peopleto create solutions to the challenges they face.
"A majority of human rights violations happening to transgender people, specifically transgender women, are because they are financially and economically dependent on their abusers or do not have a decent livelihood. Entrepreneurship is an effective way for financial freedom for transgender people so they can support themselves and their families and contribute to the National and Global economy. In addition, entrepreneurship offers young transgender people a voice and empowers them to create jobs and provide solutions."
- Saro Imran (she/her), Founder of PINK Center (Pakistan)
Youth entrepreneurship highlights the importance of diversity in various business initiatives.
"Youth entrepreneurship supports and advances diversity of various business initiatives from different backgrounds, ethnicity, culture, and gender identity by imagining what could have helped them or have granted them opportunities under certain specific situations and then turning it into a practical, concrete business solution. Once diversity is embraced, more people with different backgrounds will be inspired and pursue their passion."
- Panod Srinual (she/her), Founder of GendersMatter (Thailand).
Youth entrepreneurship cultivates a gender-inclusive workplace.
"Youth entrepreneurship can advance gender inclusion and empower the LGBTI+ community through creating SOGIESC inclusive workplace by having gender-diverse employees and members on the leadership team. Gender and sexually diverse people tend to bring ideas and strategies to businesses that are equally unique and innovative that serve the needs of the LGBTI+ customers that businesses often miss." In addition,"their skills and diversified perspectives add value to the entrepreneurship ecosystem making products/services more LGBTI+ friendly while promoting inclusivity in business through social and economic empowerment that contributes to entrepreneurial growth."
- Lamea Tanjin Tanha (she/her or they/them), Founder and CEO of TransEnd (Bangladesh)
May the insights and wisdom of these young social entrepreneurs' gender lens inspire action to integrate a gender-inclusive approach when ideating solutions to performing business processes, practices, and policies. Discover more LGBTI+ and youth entrepreneurship stories here at https://www.youthcolab.org/lgbtiq.
Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.