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Shanakht: Dignity for All

Address challenges of social exclusion, stereotyping, persecution & lack of economic opportunities for transgender (TG) community

Photo of Samar Hasan
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

The target community & involved stakeholders agree that the intervention is required on an urgent basis to address the former’s socio-economic exclusion that has evolved into chronic stigmatization forcing them to lead a life of poverty & misery. The program capitalizes on a mix of socio-economic interventions aimed at alleviating the fundamental dynamics holding the community in isolation. Refined with beneficiary & expert feedback & organizations working with TG persons, the program integrates existing resources (both human and organizational) to implement the multi-faceted TG empowerment program, including skills & business development, health & psycho-social support, establishing synergies with financial institutions, industry, civil society & other service providers, & media & advocacy. It is designed to impart a sustainable, community-based mechanism & infrastructure for long-term sustainability & growth, & leverages existing skills found within the community.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

The entire community exhibits desensitized behavior towards the TG community, systematically marginalizing them from social, economic & political arena. Marginalization is to such an extent that parents are forced to give up their children, if different, due to societal pressure. Our initiative is designed to bring them into the mainstream, open socio-economic avenues for them & change public sentiment & perception of the community at large so they are treated as equals.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Given the overwhelming & systemic genesis at the heart of TG marginalization, the idea espouses a multi-faceted intervention in both approach & content. It involves developing synergies with stakeholders both within the community and outside; working directly with individuals on a wide array of action areas including skill development, access to finance, business support & a concomitant sensitization, mobilization & advocacy campaign for sustainable & widespread behavior change.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Within project life: 300 TG trained (100 direct trainees train 2 persons each) & employed in businesses; 10 transgender-owned businesses, each employing 2 people; psychosocial/medical support to 500 members 3 yrs: Acceptance within TG community & general public for diverse professional occupations Sustainability ensured through training of additional members by direct beneficiaries, income generation through e-commerce & exhibitions, contributions by employed/self-employed TG.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Beneficiary feedback (BF) helped identify the need for skill & business development, personal grooming, psycho-social & medical support. It also highlighted the need for sensitization not just in the larger community but also within TG community to create awareness & acceptance for alternative occupations. BF reinforced the need for proactive role of TG community in program implementation itself. Existing organization of the community into sub-groups has the potential to act as a platform for identification, recruitment & training of suitable members to act as role models & resource persons for their local communities. Expert feedback (EF) was integrated into the program, especially issue-based advocacy, coverage of success stories, acceptance by family & colleagues. We are exploring partnerships and networks with like-minded organizations and people who are working for socio-economic and political rights of TG people & from the example of Nepal, with women rights organizations.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

The attached Gantt Chart depicts the key activities to be implemented under the project with indicative timelines.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

Epiphany will recruit a core project management team to ensure project is executed as planned. Additionally, partnerships have been explored for different elements of the project, including skill development, tech, financial & media support. Medical support partnerships are being explored for psycho-social counseling and health related issues. Some market linkages for employment opportunities have also been explored. This will be further expanded once the project is initiated.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

Cost of community center set up
Skill development of 300 transgender persons (tuition fee, stipend, equipment, materials)
Psycho-social & medical support for 500 transgender community members
Funds for setting up 10 transgender-owned businesses & market linkages development
Exhibitions/fashion shows/e-commerce platform
Media campaigns & engagement, panel discussions, publications for sensitization
Community outreach & advocacy efforts for advocacy & behavior change
HR & management cost

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Q1: What are the international best practices that can be employed to initiate and pursue behavioral change within the transgender community and the larger community in relatively shorter time? We would like to know the experts’ opinion in order to refine our approach in light of the examples from other communities.

Q2: Since Shanakht’s target community is ostracized by the larger community, even their own families for their lifestyle and identity, we would like to know what has worked in similar situations for the experts in other communities. The views shared will help us refine our goals and pace in the given time. The expert opinion on the matter will also help us rationalize the trajectory of impact vis a vis the project timeline.

Q3: We would like to receive an expert overview of the program in terms of the content, approach, timeline and expected results. This will help us in refining the contours of this program as well as the expansion of this program beyond BridgeBuilders fund.

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Through constant interaction with TG community, it was highlighted that certain members were earning quite well without much effort. High earning has raised expectations of the community members. As a result they are only willing to accept alternate work if it pays equally well. Most individuals or businesses willing to help TG want to pay low wages, which may not be acceptable to the people who are making good money from dancing and sex work. This necessitates efforts to establish ecommerce platforms & businesses which are run & managed by TG that could generate reasonable revenue.
Necessity of providing psycho social, medical and personal grooming support was also highlighted.
Expert feedback confirmed that we need to work at multiple levels in order to integrate transgender people into mainstream community. Well-thought out advocacy & communication campaigns are needed to bring behavioral & policy changes showing issues faced by TGs, success stories & stories of acceptance.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

We greatly appreciate your effort and input at every stage to help refine our proposal. This article from today, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1785604/1-permission-denied-transgender-people-cant-collect-hides-eidul-azha/, reiterates the urgency of this intervention and we sincerely hope that we are selected to execute this program with your support. We would also like to mention here that we have submitted another comprehensive program, Shanakht: Promoting Equal Rights for Transgender Community, to another donor organization, which focuses on preparing them for rights-based advocacy.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

While the proposal idea is still intact, it has evolved to become much more comprehensive and holistic through ongoing engagement with TGs, beneficiary feedback and expert feedback phases. Major changes are as follows:
Establishment of a community center within the transgender locality: During engagement with people working with TG as well as with the target audience, it was discussed that for an ideal program, it should be centered within the community so that it is easily accessible by them, travel costs are reduced, and they are comfortable coming to the space. The community center will be a multipurpose space used for trainings, ongoing stitching, information seminars, health camps etc. Hence, the program is now proposing the establishment of such a center in Islamabad, in one of the TG hubs.
Provision of psychosocial care: During key informant interviews and beneficiary interviews, it was highlighted that we need to focus on psychological issues faced by TG members as well. This component has been added to our program.
Provision of health services: Since several members reported HIV and Hepatitis C as prevalent diseases in the community, screening, treatment and prevention of the diseases has become an integral part of the program. We intend to work with local teaching hospitals (especially the community medicine departments) for ongoing community awareness and behavioral change components of the program as well as provision of subsidized medical tests, health kits and medicines.
Engagement of influencers within the TG community (senior TG members called Gurus and TG activists):
The way the community is organized is, there are Gurus – older members of the community who are responsible for teaching the younger lot and taking care of younger members called Chaila. Once the Chailas start earning, they give a good portion of their income to Gurus. Since the kind of jobs we are trying to induct them in are not that lucrative, we see potential resistance coming from the Gurus as a chaila normally makes handsome amount through begging, dancing in private events and prostitution, especially in the prime years of youth. Most transgender members may not be very welcoming of career move especially when the new careers are not that lucrative and well-paying and also involves much more effort than what they are currently putting in. Hence, advocacy will focus on how this intervention will work for them too since they can continue working even after they have lost their youth and cannot pursue dancing etc. and also earn respect from society.
Furthermore, involving them right from the beginning of the program will be very useful since they wield influence over the junior, younger members. Also, we heard from community members engaged in alternate activities that when they pursue alternate career paths, through which they may earn less money, they are teased and even boycotted by other community members. Gurus would help reduce this trend if they were endorsing alternate career pursuits.
Careful messaging to be developed through research:
EF indicated that we need to be very careful about the messages we use for different ranges of audiences – the 1s who are very supportive of transgender people to the 5's who are extremely opposed to any protection for transgender people. Hence, in the activity timeline, we have indicated focus group discussions using a mix of cisgender and TG people which will be held to design public-facing messaging rooted in shared values. Then using those common values, we will design and disseminate key messages to show that TG people are not the “other”, but are similar in their shared set of cultural values.
Also, besides showcasing success stories and highlighting TG role models, attention will be paid to identifying “messengers” who could be parents/siblings who support their transgender family member or a coworker who appreciate them for their work and talent. By depicting them in the context of family, friends, work and community, we would like to dispel the notion that TG people are isolated.
We will also focus on designing messages that explain what it means to be TG, so that general public can understand them better.
Also, in the context of media and advocacy, we will be working with ProPakistani to highlight this issue and also feature positive stories. We will be exploring more partnerships especially for radio and TV coverage, which will help shed light on this topic.
Micro-entrepreneurship training: Finally, during BF phase, some of the TG indicated their willingness to try their hand at microbusinesses. Hence, an additional feature of the program is to train TG in microbusinesses, and provide grants under this project as well as interest free loans through Akhuwat (an interest-free microfinance institution).

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

TG community is one of the most marginalized groups in Pakistan. For nearly 70 years, they have been denied the most basic rights as citizens like right of identification (CNIC), legal inheritance & respectable livelihood. It was only after Supreme Court’s order in 2012 that CNICs started being issued to TG people. This marginalization has forced them to beg for their living, indulge in prostitution to make their ends meet. They are seen as lesser humans, are abused, attacked or even killed without any legal consequence. Shanakht (identity) is an innovative initiative designed to address multifaceted challenges faced by TG persons in their daily lives – social exclusion, stereotyping, persecution, lack of respectable career fields, economic opportunities, recourse to legal action & access to health services. The program is aimed at uplifting their situation by enabling them to earn a respectable living & lead financially viable lives through skills-based trainings in tailoring, cooking, fashion designing, beauty industry, digital skills. Shanakht will also create web-based platforms & ecommerce sites for online selling. Linkages will be created to integrate them in food businesses, beauty parlors, boutiques. Through multidimensional events, such as fashion shows/exhibitions/radio programs, challenges faced by the community will be highlighted, TG activists/role models & program beneficiaries will be brought in the limelight, to change perceptions about TG community. The program will also provide psychosocial & medical support to them & educate them about their basic rights & recourse to legal action.
The project falls under “bridging peace and prosperity”. One, it actively seeks to address the stigma, social exclusion and violence faced by transgender community. Two, it aims to prepare them for respectable careers, provide economic opportunities. Three, it will enable them to seek legal recourse. Four, it will provide them with psychosocial & medical support.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

TG community is one of the most marginalized groups in Pakistan. For nearly 70 years, they have been denied the most basic rights as citizens like right of identification (CNIC), legal inheritance & respectable livelihood. It was only after Supreme Court’s order in 2012 that CNICs started being issued to TG people. This marginalization has forced them to beg for their living, indulge in prostitution to make their ends meet. They are seen as lesser humans, are abused, attacked or even killed without any legal consequence. Shanakht (identity) is an innovative initiative designed to address multifaceted challenges faced by TG persons in their daily lives – social exclusion, stereotyping, persecution, lack of respectable career fields, economic opportunities, recourse to legal action & access to health services. The program is aimed at uplifting their situation by enabling them to earn a respectable living & lead financially viable lives through skills-based trainings in tailoring, cooking

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our idea is more comprehensive than any other initiative for TGs which are charity-like and simply provide food and clothing. Along with capacity building, we are creating ongoing economic opportunities - trained tailors/fashion designers can work for other fashion houses/boutiques/tailors or pursue work independently through Shanakht’s web-based platform like mauqa.online; http://www.sukoon.com.pk. Through an ecommerce site, trainees can sell their products online like http://www.sheops.com, http://www.daraz.pk. The ones trained in culinary skills can market their products through existing initiatives such as Plate101 & Chefling Tales, work for online cooking and baking businesses, join restaurants. The ones trained in digital skills can start earning money online through freelancing websites like Upwork. The element of sustainability is built in right from the onset & a portion of the income will be channeled back to cover marketing costs, maintain the platforms & train more TGs.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Epiphany is an impact-driven consulting firm & social enterprise, focused on harnessing ideas to transform the world. Epiphany is the result of years’ long struggle to find sustainable pathways of addressing a growing set of challenges, while best employing the skills and expertise we have amassed over the years. Our core focus areas are: enterprise & human development; impact consulting; women & youth empowerment, financial inclusion, dialogue & advocacy. www.epiphany.com.pk

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The inspiration to work for the transgender community stems from a deep set desire to create a more equitable society for everyone. More specifically, transgender persons were killed at a wedding and gunned down recently and became the trigger for us to take action before it is too late. https://www.rferl.org/a/pakistan-transgender-woman-killed-peshawar/29129594.html https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/08/another-transgender-woman-killed-pakistan

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by aggression against Khawaja Sara – the name for TG people, intersex people & eunuchs - who are attacked, murdered, raped, gang raped, kidnapped & tortured in Pakistan. In KP alone, reported deaths since 2015 have risen to more than 50. https://tribune.com.pk/story/1537643/1-transgender-person-tortured-death-peshawar/ They are ridiculed by police, have limited access to justice & legal action. Prosperity has been impacted due to severe discrimination they are faced with - they are not accepted in society, are disowned by their families, face issues related to property inheritance, are often refused medical treatment, face burial issues & lack basic rights such as education, right to live & right to respectable livelihood. There are hardly any career opportunities for them besides begging, dancing and prostitution. Lack of education & lack of employment opportunities both result in continuing exclusion for them & literally no way to move out of poverty.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We will work with Islamabad Vocational & Technical Institute http://facebook.com/ivtinstituteislamabad, a well-established organization since 1997, with vast experience in conducting diverse trainings - cutting, stitching, designing; beautician courses, cooking/baking courses, computer courses. The Principal/Founder has been a master trainer for 2 decades, has trained disabled women from Balakot, worked for 15 years with NRSP to train marginalized women & worked with refugees. They also have experience of organizing fashion shows. We also have commitments from Pernia Couture (https://web.facebook.com/perniacouture/), SIA Multibrand store (https://web.facebook.com/groups/224969047519075/) to outsource their stitching requirements to Shanakht; Needs Kitchen (https://web.facebook.com/needskitchen/), Plate 101 (https://web.facebook.com/plate101pk/) for culinary relationships, www.propakistani.pk for media coverage, Brilliant Innovators for web/ecommerce portal creation.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Pakistan is a country of predominantly young people desirous of change. There is a strong spirit of philanthropy. Organizations working on equal economic, social & political rights are good partners for us - Smile Foundation works with acid attack victims; Bedari works with sexually abused women; Behbud provides economic opportunities to artisans. The ease with which IVTI, Pernia Couture, SIA, Needs Kitchen agreed to partner with us give hope that the time is right for such an intervention.

Geographic Focus

Transgender community in Pakistan, starting from Islamabad and Rawalpindi, expanding nationwide

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
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Very timely project idea and great work putting real faces behind this effort, documenting your work and personalizing the community you are advocating for.

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