Micro Rainbow: The Power of Local Collaboration for LGBTQI+ Rights

Viseth is from the vibrant town of Battambong in Cambodia, proudly identifying as a transgender woman and now a confident LGBTQI+ activist. This year Viseth saw an opportunity on a local social media group to join the Rainbow in Action project and has not only changed her perception of herself but is advocating for the rights of LGBTQI+ people across Cambodia.

Micro Rainbow training session on LGBTQI+ rights

The project is an initiative of Micro Rainbow Cambodia set up through CARE’s Feminists in Action project. and funded by the Agence Française de Développement. This initiative provides flexible funding to grassroots partners while supporting them to progress on their vision, providing resources and training to strengthen their activities, deepen their expertise, and build collective action. This is what CARE and its partners stand for, and this is how, through the Rainbow in Action project, 40 LGBTQI+ people’s confidence is being strengthened so they become advocates and leaders in their communities. They, in return, will ensure an increased awareness of the local authorities and community members on the impact of violence against LGBTQI+ people in Banteay Meanchey Province and Battambong Province, Cambodia, where the project now runs.

Micro Rainbow Cambodia: Pioneering LGBTQI+ economic empowerment for equality

Since 2013, Micro Rainbow Cambodia has been focusing on promoting economic empowerment as a new entry point to LGBTQI+ equality in country. Micro Rainbow Cambodia’s vision is clear: to create a Cambodia where LGBTQI+ people are free from discrimination and have equal opportunities in all aspects of life. Discrimination against LGBTQI+ people remains an issue in Cambodia where there is no anti-discrimination law encompassing gender identity and sexual orientation, no legal marriage law for same-sex couples, and no gender identity recognition law. Discrimination persists, particularly in areas like family, health, education, and finance, and LGBTQI+ individuals are continuously excluded from services, and community decisions.

Despite these persisting challenges, Kong Yara, Rainbow in Action’s Project Coordinator at Micro Rainbow Cambodia focuses on the positive achievements that “awareness of LGBTQI+ issues is growing, and the community is growing stronger, backed by support from allies and government authorities”. Micro Rainbow Cambodia’s partnership with CARE is facilitating impactful advocacy on a regional and national level, opening opportunities to host meetings with local authorities, community dialogues and hosting training sessions for 40 LGBTQI+ new activists who are gaining practical skills to respond to discrimination confidently and positively. Yara wants to see more of in the country: “Through the partnership with CARE we are gaining knowledge on managing projects, building our network and allies, and have resources to expand our work and activities” Yara explained.

Viseth is proud to be building supportive networks and engaging with local authorities to address her community’s concerns and find solutions that last. “Understanding my rights gave me the courage to stand up against discrimination,” she shared. No longer feeling the need to hide, Viseth now engages in conversations with people about LGBTQI+ rights and equality and has become a passionate advocate in her community.

CARE believes in empowering their partners to equip vulnerable groups with the skills and knowledge needed to lead and contribute to meaningful changes that truly represent their communities’ voices, interests, and priorities.

By trusting and supporting local expertise and investing in grassroots efforts, CARE and its partners are paving the way toward a more equal and inclusive society.

This story was crafted in collaboration with CARE and Micro Rainbow Cambodia