IFED General Assembly: New board, new challenges, new opportunities

Amidst the worldwide coronavirus crisis, the General Assembly of the International Family Equality Day (IFED) calls for innovative solutions, unity and mutual support.

Not just one but two important events for family equality were supposed to take place in Geneva yesterday: Firstly, the General Assembly of the “International Family Equality Day” (IFED) NGO, and secondly the UN side event “The Recognition and Respect of Families”. The latter had been co-organized by IFED and the Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE) and was set to be held during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council. Due to the measures imposed by the Swiss Federal Council and the United Nations at the beginning of the week to protect the public by slowing down the spread of COVID-19, neither event could be held as originally planned.

Unusual but effective

While the UN side event had to be cancelled, the IFED General Assembly did take place, albeit in uncommon form: the board as well as members from across the globe used the possibilities provided by the internet and met in an online conference. “It was definitely unusual to welcome everyone on a computer screen and to work through the list of agenda items together while being separated by hundreds or even thousands of kilometers,” says IFED Board Member Derricia Castillo-Salazar. “But unusual times require unusual measures,” she continues, “and we’re glad the Assembly could be held despite the trying circumstances.”

Global representation

One of the main items on the agenda was the election of new board members. “We are thrilled to welcome Benny Odongo from Kenya, Lana Woolf from Australia and Serena Johnson from the United States in our ranks,” says IFED Board Member Ging Cristobal. “With Benny, Lana and Serena, every continent is now represented on the IFED board. This is another strong sign of the universal relevance of the International Family Equality Day and a great motivator to tackle the upcoming tasks.” It is also a reflection of how much IFED is growing and finding its place on the global human rights stage. Regarding future plans, the IFED community will continue to fight for the global recognition of equal rights for rainbow families and people with diverse gender identities, sexualities and sex characteristics in general. “Highlighting the importance of family diversity, enhancing our visibility and mutual empowerment is what we keep striving for,” says newly elected IFED board member Benny Odongo, adding that this year’s focus lies on raising awareness for the need of safe and inclusive learning environments where no child feels inferior or left behind.

New challenges, new ideas

With the spread of COVID-19 and governmental protective measures curtailing personal freedoms across the world, the current challenges are manifold and add to the oftentimes already difficult situations of rainbow families. “However,” says IFED founder Maria von Känel, “we ought to try to see these challenges as a force to further unite us – a force that requires us to be creative, to take the time to connect even more with each other, to use all available channels and means and to come up with innovative ways of pursuing our goals and spreading our message. I look forward to new ideas for a joyous celebration of this year’s IFED at the beginning of May.”
To order a hard copy of the IFED Report 2019, please contact: info@internationalfamilyequalityday.org

Media contacts:
Benny Odongo (IFED Board-Member, Kenya) +254 711131195
Lana Woolf (IFED Board-Member, Australia): +61 477530312
Ging Cristobal ( IFED Board-Member, Philippines): +63 9175570404
Maria von Känel ( IFED Board-Member, Switzerland ): +41 79 611 06 71

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In 2023 IFED was celebrated in 258 Towns in 78 Countries. Greetings to all LGBTIQ* Families, related, friends, activists out there.

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