Nandini Tanya Lallmon from Mauritius is OD Young Person of the Month for August 2021!
Welcome to August!
Our Young Person of the Month is Nandini Tanya Lallmon from Mauritius! Nandini is a social justice activist advocating for sustainable development at the intersection of gender, technology and human rights. Appointed as African Youth Charter Hustler for Mauritius by the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, she fosters the active appropriation by LGBQI African youth of their rights by taking a decolonial perspective on sexual orientation, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression.
Read her story below and be inspired!
NANDINI TANYA LALLMON
Appointed as African Youth Charter Hustler for Mauritius by the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, Tanya fosters the active appropriation by LGBQI African youth of their rights by taking a decolonial perspective on LGBTQI+ human rights. In parallel, she advocates for diversity and inclusion at the Youth Sounding Board of the European Commission for International Partnerships, YouthLead Youth Advisory Group and Global Schools Program of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Tanya is the first ever United Nations Religion Fellow from Mauritius at OutRight Action International, through which she harnesses the international law system to protect LGBTQI+ people from religiously-motivated violence. She is one of the 2021 IGLYO Supreme Activist Academy Trophies winners. She has also won the video contest organised by the World Bank Group at the virtual International Finance Corporation Sustainability Exchange for her submission on LGBTQI+ inclusion in the workplace and challenging gender stereotypes in STEM fields.
On Her Journey
As a law student in her native Mauritius, Tanya learned that the local law is a majorly a vestige of British colonisation. However, while laws have been reformed to reflect modern societal customs in the UK, Mauritian laws have remained fairly stagnant. As a result, across the Commonwealth, LGBTQI+ people live within intersections of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression as well as sex characteristics. Solutions to these systemic issues often tackle symptoms, such as demographic representation, and overlook deeply rooted causes, from institutional discrimination to cultural bias and transgenerational trauma.
Although these are vestiges of the British Empire’s rule, a shared problem lends itself to shared solutions. Similar legal and political systems, and the use of English as a common language, enable knowledge-sharing and collective work to challenge discrimination. Tanya has committed herself, as legal lead of the #Reform53 campaign at the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN), to challenge current conceptions of sexism that privilege the experiences of cisgender men, with stale and superficial approaches to diversity, leaving LGBTQI+ groups ambling along without meaningful improvement.
In her role of steering committee member of the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, she educates African activists on the human rights protection mechanisms available to them in cases of abuse. As Advocacy Coordinator at the Young African Leaders Initiative Mauritius Chapter Committee, she amplifies the voices of LGBTQI youth to ensure that their interests are taken into account in planning and decision-making processes. She has just completed her tenure as country lead of the local chapters of the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network, Youth Advocacy Council, International Youth Council, International Youth Society,
International Youth Development Society, Thought for Food, Grand Africa Initiative and African Network of Youth Policy Experts. She has previously volunteered as mentor for the Mentoring Women in Business Programme at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the Impact Challenge at Opportunity Desk. She now sits on the advisory board of the Steering for Greatness Foundation, Agents of Peace Kenya, Inspirit Creatives, CIVICUS Solidarity Fund and Global Peace Chain.
On Her Wins
Nandini Tanya is a fellow at Future Africa, African ChangeMakers Initiative, TEDx Johannesburg, African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative and World Youth Alliance. Her numerous awards include the Mauritius National Youth Excellence Award, Promising Indian African Award, Panache Woman of Wonder Award, The International Alliance for Women World of Difference Award, National Youth Awardees Federation of India International Youth Award, India’s Youth Development Board Shining Star Award, Mauritius Woman of the Year Award and Noble Citizen Award.
Tanya is the first ever United Nations Religion Fellow from Mauritius at OutRight Action International, through which she harnesses the international law system to protect LGBTQI people from religiously-motivated violence. In March 2021, she represented the LBTI Caucus at the Virtual Townhall Meeting with the UN Secretary-General at the 65th Commission on the Status of Women. In July 2021, she was a speaker at the
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on behalf of the LGBTI Stakeholder Group at the official thematic session on SDGs 1, 2, 8 and 17.
In the wake of the pandemic where historical inequalities have been exacerbated, Tanya leverages international platforms and social media to advocate for learning, dialogue and development spaces that are respectful, inclusive and transformative. The COVID-19 outbreak showed her the worst, yet through self-discipline and resilience to adverse circumstances, she found ways to triumph. In July 2021, she entered the 2021 Global Online Edition of the Activist Academy and won one of the three Supreme Activist Academy Trophies. This competition, intended for young LGBTQI activists worldwide, is organised by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex Youth & Student Organisation (IGLYO) with the support of the Council of Europe, European Youth Foundation, Government of Netherlands and the Rights Equality and Citizenship (REC) programme 2014-2020 of the European Union.
In June 2021, she won the video contest organised by the World Bank Group at the virtual International Finance Corporation Sustainability Exchange for her submission on LGBTQI inclusion in the workplace and challenging gender stereotypes in STEM fields. In May 2021, she was selected to advocate in favour of social inclusion of young people from marginalised groups at the roundtable of the Youth2030 Forum for the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly. As Community Leaderfor Internet Health at Digital Grassroots, she co-authored a report on LGBT Rights in the Digital Space. The recommendations therein stemmed from the panel discussion she hosted as part of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum organised by Paradigm Initiative in May 2021.
Additionally, her activism story was featured in a queer anthology published by Taboom Media and GALA Queer Archive entitled “Hopes and Dreams That Sound Like Yours: Stories of Queer Activism in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in late 2021, Tanya leads the lobbying for the reform of laws discriminating against LGBTQI+ people in Commonwealth countries on behalf of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) under the Royal Commonwealth Society. During their #reform53 campaign launch week in January 2020, three High Commissioners and two Commonwealth Secretariat divisions vowed their support. In February, they presented the campaign at the Equality and Justice Alliance Forum in Seychelles and the She Decides festival in Uganda. In March, they obtained the United Nations SecretaryGeneral’s Envoy on Youth’s endorsement. Unfortunately, in April 2020, their work came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, undeterred, Tanya managed to keep their campaign alive online. She publicised the campaign in Mauritius and across Africa, resulting in her being featured by 15 print and 27 online media houses. She is the linchpin of a webinar series to amplify the voices of the minority groups they advocate for. So far, their webinars have garnered more than 100,000 views and engaged more than 300,000 people.
She encourages young activists working on the same cause to present a united front as a coalition to boost their chances of success at the 2021 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. She welcomes requests from allies to join their campaign calls to action, participate in their events and exchange advocacy resources. She invites collaborators to share the #reform53 promotional campaign videos and infographics. She asks supporters to share a selfie with the campaign logo drawn on their palm via social media and tag CYGEN
Her Words of Advice to Young People
In the wake of the pandemic where historical inequalities have been exacerbated, Tanya advises young people to leverage international platforms and social media to advocate for learning, dialogue and development spaces that are respectful, inclusive and transformative. She motivates young activists working on the same cause to present a united front as a coalition to boost their chances of success in advocacy. She encourages collaborations with allies by joining their campaign calls to action, participating in their events and exchanging knowledge and resources. Although the COVID-19 outbreak has shown everyone the worst, she believes that through solidarity and kindness, we can still find ways to triumph collectively.
Who will be the next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. Oh! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!Share