Achieving great things together!


Working together with the Sexuality and Development Programme

With Pamoja’s support the Sexuality and Development Programme is thinking through how it communicates with international development stakeholders on two critical issues, pleasure and empowerment and heteronormativity.


When international development actors engage on sexuality-related issues they tend to take a very negative position, for example they will focus on violence or sexual and reproductive ill-health. The importance of improving health outcomes and challenging human rights abuses is core to Pamoja’s work. However, sexuality is about more than risk, danger and hurt. Many people consider their sexuality a source of pleasure and their struggle for sexual rights is a struggle for freedom and satisfaction as much as it is related to protection from pain and exploitation. The IDS Sexuality and Development Programme supports research and communications aimed at rethinking the relationship between sexuality, rights and development and building stronger links between people in different contexts working to realise their sexual rights.

 Achieving great things together

Pamoja was contracted by the Institute of Development Studies to support their communications work that seeks to explain the links between sexuality and pleasure. We are working with authors from around the world to deliver an edited volume that brings together research and programmatic learning in this area.

Heteronormativity is the assumption that the only legitimate sexual relationships are monogamous (usually married) relationships between men and women, of the same class and ethnicity.  Heteronormativity undermines the work of social movements, governments and donors engaged in work on international development. For example economic and poverty reduction policy that fails to acknowledge the diversity of family and other relationships may fail to reach potential beneficiaries who do not conform to particular norms around gender and sexuality.

We are working with the Sexuality and Development Programme to write and promote a report that provides an introduction to the issue and relates heteronormativity to different areas of policy and programming.

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“As a result of being marginalised and socially excluded… lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are prevented from participating in society on equal terms, for example by having limited opportunities for earning a livelihood…This has led to a situation of widespread poverty among LGBT persons in many countries.”  Action plan for Swedish international development agency work on sexual orientation and gender identity 2007-2009, p2

“Heterosexuality is a key site of intersection between gender and sexuality, and one that that reveals the interconnections between sexual and non-sexual aspects of social life… it entails who washes the sheets and whose wage pays for them as well as what goes on between them.” Stevi Jackson 2005, The social complexity of heteronormativity: gender, sexuality and heterosexuality, Lecture at the international conference ‘Heteronormativity – A Fruitful Concept?’ Trondheim, June 2nd -4th 2005, p7

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