The LGBTI movement is full of great activists, motivated for all sorts of reasons – both personal and political. Our activists work tirelessly and do amazing work. Yet they do not possess super powers.
There is increasing pressure on LGBTI activists to take on more work. In a context where such activities are generally under resourced and communities are growing, this presents a growing challenge. Moreover, their social media presence means that activists are now “on the job” 24/7. This constant focus on individual activists only adds to their potential stress – coming from within the movement and from outside the movement. This stress intensifies significantly in hostile contexts where LGBTI activists are personally at risk because of their out-spoken advocacy work.
“If it is not me, who else?” is the mantra used as an excuse by some activists who are taking on incredible workloads. Often this is combined with an unhealthy (and sometimes inseparable) work/life balance. It is not rocket-science to figure out that the vast majority of activists cannot uphold an unhealthy overload of activism work for a long period of their lives. As a result, activists increasingly drop out of activism due to burnout. One simple reason for this is that activists tend to not to value their own or their fellow activists’ wellbeing.
Continuity in the LGBTI movement is vital if we want to move forward. It is harmful if people doing the work constantly changes. Equally, lots of energy, resources and knowledge are wasted if new people have to take over the work that someone else has built up.
ILGA-Europe are keen to encourage our member organisations to put wellbeing of activists higher on their agendas. With tailored sessions in countries and during our Annual Conference, we are aim to cultivate an environment where wellbeing is prioritised and taken seriously.
Finally with the Dignity For All programme we are providing emergency funds for activists where their wellbeing (and safety) is at stake.
Through our work on wellbeing, ILGA-Europe concentrates on identifying issues that negatively affect the personal wellbeing of activists. Based on needs assessments and professional advice, we help organisations to develop effective measures to support activists’ wellbeing and share existing practices with them. The aim of the wellbeing activities is to provide members with practical skills and to find solutions to deal with negative factors at an organisational level too.