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The ONSIDE Fund is committed to actively curating spaces for global knowledge exchange and learning. As part of this commitment, we bring together a variety of different stakeholders from across the gender justice sector including; ONSIDE grantees, funders, women's funds and sport for development organisations. 

In order to capture the valuable insights that emerge in these spaces, the ONSIDE Fund is excited to launch the 'ONSIDE Fund Thought Piece Series', a series of short articles, each written by different ONSIDE stakeholders, who share their unique perspectives after participating in these conversations. 

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by Nyambura M. Waruingi

Sandra Castro Pinzón of Tan Grande y Jugando (Colombia) delivered the resounding culmination to our October 2022 We are ONSIDE Conversation: “You have your future in your hands”.

Those on screen, Fariah Laikipian (Kenya), Sham Al Bdour (Jordan), Tiffany Attali (France),

Cristina Amaya (USA), and our moderator, Mariana Chavez (ONSIDE Gaming), nodded in agreement, rejuvenated, inspired. And for us, watching the webinar “Highlighting the Work of Grantees Advancing Gender Justice in And Through Esports and Gaming”, felt a wave of reinvigoration wash over us. Some bruja vibes were definitely a part of this online meeting.

Bruja, witches, healers, empowered women, those integrating the masculine and feminine...depending on the moment in history, the language, the nomenclature shifts.

Photo by Latinx in Gaming

Gossip, idle talk, a close friend, related to one in God. Again, depending on the moment in history, the person with the power to name determines the lens through which we interpret. Gender justice is about reclaiming and transforming spaces, both literal and linguistic. How we use language is so important to this emancipatory path.

And the brujas in conversation, our five healers, our five empowered women illuminated various trajectories at the heart of delineating these revolutionary journeys. What struck me deeply was the evolution out of western liberal feminist politics, which have shaped many of our cultural and economic transformations in the different countries, and a deeper dive into the evolving nature of an inclusionary, integrated and representative approach.

Photo by AnyKey

There’s a focus on centring community-building, wellness advocacy, confidence-building through mentorship, and forging a sustainable path to participation in esports and gaming, where harassment and exploitation are ever-present. In order for us to show up as our full selves, women, non-binary, and the LGBTQI+ communities need to equip themselves with tools and strategies to safely navigate different spaces. It’s a completely different approach from ‘leaning in’. It is not about being of the sector but getting to navigate in otherwise exclusionary and heteronormative male- centred spheres. This, then, expands to create another transformation: men as part of the change we want to see and effect, creating spaces incorporating healthy and positive masculinity.

Through various gender-mainstreaming initiatives from international NGOs, the statistics zero in on the numbers of women, LGBTQI+, and non-binary persons within organizations. However, our brujas emphasized on pivoting to ownership of organizations, initiatives—we are at the centre, shaping the very narratives being constructed that will then forge a path to deconstruct harmful culture codes and perpetuation of stereotypes. Tiffany Attali, for example, crafts games and experiences from a non-binary lens, “creating worlds that erase stereotypes”.

As we pivot to leadership, we recognize the importance of visibility. Sham Al Bdour remarked on how her speaking at events influenced young girls to see themselves as game makers. In seeing ourselves, we work to overcoming the barriers, some of which are about gaining “the opportunity to be in the room.” (Cristina Amaya) Cristina leads by raising money to fund travel and hardware, for example. This networking is crucial to building women and networks based on “communit(ies) built on empathy and compassion” (Fariah Laikipian), which develop our confidences through mentorship.

Photo by Sakura Games

New and important words shaped our conversation, elevating our engagement. Our language was not metric-biased; it was communitarian-centric. Connection. Collaboration. Genuine interest. Recognition. Understanding. Compassion. And we laughed, deeply, all the while sharing like close friends. This moment in We Are ONSIDE Gaming Conversations was a demonstration of how we were empowering ourselves in abundant, inclusive, revolutionary yet simple ways. The coven, la asamblea, had assembled to transform not only our minds and acts, but most importantly our language of revolt.

Author’s note: The idea of drawing from the lexicon of witches and covens is inspired by the work of Sandra Castro Pinzón with a women’s empowerment initiative called Asamblea, which means coven. This lexicon is also important because powerful women that threatened heteronormative patriarchy in western and colonizing cultures were called witches. It would be interesting to see what the equivalent of this in non-western cultures were.

ENG_The ONSIDE Fund Thought Piece Series III
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Written by Machi Orime, Maitri Manjunath and Mwamba Nyanda


Machi (Sport for Creating Pathways, Japan)

It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the situation of LGBTQIA+ people in different countries and the unique work carried out for the LGBTQIA+ community through sport. I could also see how cultural backgrounds affect the barriers that the LGBTQIA+ community face. It

reminded me that we must closely look at social issues from local perspectives. I've found various clues to expand our work for the LGBTQIA+ community, such as paying attention to intersexuality, increasing community engagement, and collaborating with other institutions.

Maitri (People's Ultimate League, India)

The 'We Are ONSIDE' panel discussion gave People's Ultimate League (PUL) a wonderful opportunity to interact with other groups with similar interests from all over the world. The experiences shared by the participants and the challenges they faced on field were valuable take home information for us; some were relatable experiences for us and the communities we are working with, making us realise the potential for future collaborations with these other groups. In addition, it was heartening to see the participation in the Q&A session. Queries and points raised there will be good learning points for our initiatives. We look forward to more such conversations, and in the process, learn more from each other towards achieving our goals

Mwamba (Tanzania Trans Initiative, Tanzania)

Participating in the 'We Are ONSIDE' conversation gave me the realisation that LGBTQIA+ people need to take and make spaces for themselves within sports. By collaborating with other organisations working with these communities, we can gain knowledge, ideas and strategies that will work to bring equality and inclusion to sport.


Maitri (People's Ultimate League, India)

In order to keep these conversations going forward, I would suggest we have sessions where each group focuses on their short term specific goals, what has worked and what hasn't worked for them. This could be a platform for all of us to brainstorm and benefit from each others' knowledge.

Machi (Sport for Creating Pathways, Japan)

I would love to have more inspiring conversations like this. It would be interesting to invite people from sports organisations and athletes to the discussion as well as groups working with LGBTQIA+ communities. I believe the perspectives from different sectors will allow us to extend the conversation and discuss how we can work together for LGBTQIA+ communities in and through sports.

Mwamba (Tanzania Trans Initiative, Tanzania)

I think it is vital that we remain connected with this network and continue sharing ideas, opportunities and learnings about working with and advocating for LGBTQIA+ communities within sports.

ONSIDE Fund Thought Piece LGBTQIA Voices
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Written by Caroline Rucah Mwochi - Executive Director, Western Kenya LBQT Feminist Forum

Is measuring success just another funder requirement?

Funny, I ask this after a conversation named ‘Democratising Philanthropy: Measuring Success’, which brought together ONSIDE Fund grantees and funders. These spaces that bring together key partners who work to create safe spaces and promote gender equality through the intersection of sports and feminism, which for a long time seemed like worlds apart, are very rare to come by. As I ponder this question, I cannot get over the fact that most proposals written have to have either a logic framework or a theory of change, outlining expected outcomes and always assuming positive impact.

Democratising Philanthropy: Measuring Success” curated a different type of conversation. A conversation that was seeking to decolonize and deconstruct knowledge, its acquisition, its use and its users. We were looking at historical measures of evaluation and how to enhance or replace constructs of monitoring evaluation and learning (MEL). This has been incorporated within the ONSIDE Fund learning grants for example. I believe that the participatory approach to MEL challenges the notions on what is considered evidence, who collects it, how and who uses it. There is also need to document all learning processes, be cognisant of the difference in contexts and the fact that we are in one way or the other a contributing factor to change and not attributing to the change.

How to measure success? What does change look like? Do you remember my question that began this thought piece? Funders have their indicators too. I am going to go ahead and say that in my thoughts, various projects need to work with the communities to customize the indicators to speak to them and the context in a participatory reflective process. Qualitative and quantitative indicators also need to be combined so that they can balance, strengthen and explain each other. For the case of movements, success can not only be measured by numbers and the evidence gathered should be that which empowers all those involved. Language is also as important when showing change. Cultural conceptualization of evidence and the success measured should be prioritized to shift the notion that only funders need to measure success. After all, the consumers of the change are the communities.

To measure success, we need to create room to learn, unlearn and relearn. Taking the shame out of ‘failure’ drives experimentation, innovation and diversified approaches to monitoring, evaluation and learning. Funders need to collectively think, pool together and take risks.

I am going to conclude with an excerpt from one of my poems, “The Forbidden Love by Rucahlitious Carole”, an excerpt that shows that despite risks, what we have is beautiful and we should stand by it.

"When with you, no one else matters It is you I want, no matter what they utter I don’t concur with them, you make me glitter Don’t waver boo, stay tight, don’t splatter Coz it’s you and me against the hate They say its forbidden love"

ONSIDE Fund Thought Piece by Caroline Rucah Mwochi
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