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CLEOPATRA KAMBUGU, Ugandan Trans-Activist Closing Keynote and Fundraiser

CLEOPATRA KAMBUGU, Ugandan Trans-Activist Closing Keynote and Fundraiser


Cleopatra Kambugu, a trans-gender human rights activist from Uganda, currently living and working in Kenya at the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (UHAI EASHRI) will be speaking as a CLOSING KEYNOTE at the International Development Conference held this February 6th and 7th, 2016. https://internationaldevelopmentcon2016a.sched.org)

Due to the International Development Conference being a completely student-volunteer run and organized conference, the team only had limited funds to secure her travel and accomodations, and are hoping to support her journey to Canada by helping her fundraise for her organization.

We will be opening up this keynote session to the PUBLIC at a DONATE WHAT YOU CAN rate. All proceeds will be going towards her organization.

Delegates currently registered for the conference need not register here on Eventbrite.

See below for her bio, and here for a documentary she was in documenting her challenges of transitioning and fighting for love in a country which forbid it: http://pearlofafrica.tv/cleopatra-kambugu/

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Cleo Kambugu is a 29-year-old Ugandan transgender activist, with a BSc. in Agriculture. She is currently finishing with her MSc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

She works with UHAI - the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (UHAI EASHRI) as the Programme Assistant in Grant Making and Capacity Support, a position she has held for two years. UHAI EASHRI is an indigenous activist fund, which works to support civil society organising in the Eastern African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo and Ethiopia through flexible, accessible, activist-led grant making, participatory capacity enhancement, research, engagement and advocacy.

As a transgender woman living and transitioning in Uganda, she has been dealt full throttle with the vehement hand of transphobia and imputed homophobia. It is from these experiences and those of the trans* community she serves that her passion and activism for the social justice of trans* persons arose. She started out as a “freelance” activist in Uganda offering capacity support to varied organisations specifically on research and documentation and general technical capacity support for organizational development. She then joined Trans Support Initiative Uganda [TSIU], volunteering as the Chairperson of the security committee and operating the organization’s community Paralegal Programme while doubling as an impromptu resource person with a keen interest on health, research and documentation.

She was then promoted to the position of Programme Officer: Grants, Research and Documentation and Capacity, a position she held for close to three year prior to joining UHAI.

While in Uganda her activism mostly revolved around support for research and documentation with a bias to health, security, advocacy and strategic litigation around the Equal Opportunities Act, the since repealed Anti Homosexuality Act, and several others. In her work, she emphasized the need to appreciate and build the urgency of trans* people to define, tell and determine their lived realities, and has worked on several media projects towards this cause. Her most recent work being as the protagonist of The Pearl of Africa movie documentary, a project the chronicles the life of an African trans* girl particularly on her conversion with gender and broader identity, and also as she seeks health care. The project was among the many other interventions she sought, geared towards raising an internal awareness around the transgender community, and the need for inclusive affirmative and inclusive trans health care for her community back home. Though initially intended to grab the attention and appreciation of her indigenous audience back home, the documentary has since caught the attention of several online media sources, and won the first ever Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Global Media Award of Excellence even prior to its official release date. Through the story she also attempts to deconstruct gender, and debunk the many myths and stereotypes about the African trans* person.

As an activist, she has engaged in several engagments across her home continent:

She took part in the Pan African Advocacy Programme that seeks to see sustainable engagement of sex workers sexual and gender minorities with the African Commission and African Union mechanisms in ways that can see impact trickle up and down from their local national programmes to the supra continental level.

She participated in the development of the African trans* feminist charter, that sought to establish the position of African transwomen with one voice.

She took part in the ICD regional discussions that are currently trying to provide voice to African Trans* people in how they are talked about the upcoming Diagnostic statistical manual of mental health disorders.

She facilitated the African trans* pre conference conversation that brought African trans community representatives on one table to deliberate on the need, feasibility and modalities of an African trans* network and what niche that would fill in the current regional trans* movement, and the broader supra continental and global conversations.



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International Development Conference at UTSC