Municipal elections throughout Colombia this year will see a huge uptick in openly LGBTQ candidates, the result of a joint project between the Victory Institute and Caribe Afirmativo to train out leaders on best practices in building political campaigns.
Since 2013, Victory has been working to train and collaborate with a diverse group of LGBTQ leaders in Colombia. Taking into account the unique political climate, candidates are trained on effectively utilizing resources and strategies to create a successful campaign that will allow them to take part in their governments as elected and appointed officials. A diverse pool of trainees from all over the country learned necessary skills by attending one of the 4 trainings we organized during these past months, through presentations, workshops, and engaging in realistic campaign situations. These trainings have also provided the opportunity to hear from and meet other out publically elected officials, such as Angélica Lozano, the first openly LGBTQ candidate elected to the Colombian Congress.
Victory and its local partner, Caribe Afirmativo, have also collaborated to organize multiple electoral debates throughout the region. The ultimate goal for these debates is to create public awareness around LBGT candidates and encourage informed decisions during the elections.
In order for people to stay informed about the ongoing efforts and success, Victory and its local partner created the “Observatorio de la Participación Política de las Personas LGBTI en Colombia” (Initiative for the Political Participation of LGBTI people in Colombia). Through the Observatorio website, we are able to display important candidate information, events, research, and news surrounding the LGBTQ political realm.
So, why is this work important?
It is essential that each government represent the people it serves. Training future LGBTQ leaders is crucial in bringing about a more inclusive democratic society. Not only does our work in Colombia provide vital resources to qualified and motivated leaders, it also raises public awareness surrounding the LGBTQ movement.
In fact, trainees in Colombia reported that they had significantly improved their skillset, better preparing them to hold public office positions. Out of nearly 100 LGBTQ people who attended trainings in Colombia, at least 23 will be running for local elections in October. Victory and Caribe Afirmativo are currently continuing our training with these candidates to advise them on fundraising and campaign strategies as they work to add their voices to local governments.
We’re proud to report this success in Colombia, and we’re excited to continue our work throughout the region. Read more about Victory’s international work here, or check out our video highlighting Victory’s first training in Bogotá, Colombia in May 2013.