Clare Byarugaba and Stephanie Musho featured in CNN: The Defenders: 30 people protecting women’s and LGBTQ+ rights as equals

| March 21, 2024

At a time when countries are pushing to restrict and criminalize LGBTQ+ rights and terms such “Gender ideology” and are being used to foment fear, build political power and push back against hard-won advances in women and LGBTQ+ rights, CNN’s “As Equal” series on gender equality sheds a light on 30 powerful people, spanning from Afghanistan to the United States, whose lives and work respond to the challenges posed by such anti-gender movements.  Clare Byarugaba, our 2018 New Voices Fellow and Stephanie Musho, our 2020 New Voices Fellow are among those people.


Clare, who is one of the few openly LGBTQ+ activists in Uganda, works with civil liberties organization Chapter Four, based in Kampala, and is also the founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Uganda, a project that facilitates open conversations between LGBTQ+ people and their families. She has been at the forefront of the fight to overturn the law passed by Ugandan government last year that makes being gay punishable by life imprisonment or death.  Stephanie, on the other hand, through her work is actively casting a light on the shadowy groups who are opposing rights for Kenyan women and LGBTQ+ people. In 2022, she released a six-part show that takes aim at local lobbying organizations and religious groups with international connections undermining changes to Kenya’s 2010 Constitution that enshrined a Kenyan’s right to reproductive health. 


As noted in this piece, the global backlash against LBTQ+  and women’s rights threatens not just the development agenda and the possibility for women and queer people all over the world to live without discrimination or bigotry,  it also actively threatens our democracies.  The courage and determination of these activists,  academics, advocates, catalysts and creatives, who are fighting to bring change continues to be an inspiration.