New collective to campaign for intersex rights in Southern Africa


Activists came together late last year to strengthen the campaign for intersex rights in the region (Photo: supplied)

Intersex activists from across Southern Africa are collaborating to raise awareness of intersex issues and to fight for the protection of the rights of intersex people in the region.

From 25 to 27 November 2022, intersex activists from Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe gathered for a Southern African Intersex Capacity Strengthening meeting, convened by Iranti, a lesbian, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming rights organisation.

At the meeting, they founded a new autonomous collective; the Southern African Intersex Forum (SAIF), to bolster the capacities of intersex organisations in the SADC region.

“We recognise that stigma, discrimination, medical violence, and exclusion of intersex people is prevalent in the region. The legal and policy environment is not enabling for the promotion and protection of the rights of intersex people,” said the collective in a statement.

“Intersex people have limited access to justice and redress when faced with human rights violations both nationally and regionally. Discrimination results in limited access to education, employment, affirming healthcare and other essential services.”

SAIF aims to “set the regional advocacy agenda on intersex issues,” strengthen the capacities of Southern African intersex organisations and mobilise and share skills, resources and information.

It will co-create regional intersex advocacy campaigns and engage with regional human rights and policy-makers.

The collective has also highlighted the importance of contributing to legal and policy review and reform with “evidence-based data centered around the lived realities of intersex people”.

SAIF called on SADC member states to not only prohibit discrimination against intersex people but to also put an end to non-consensual medical interventions such as intersex genital mutilations  or IGM (unnecessary and irreversible surgeries to make intersex babies and children fit one of the gender binaries).

The collective further urged funders to support under-resourced intersex activism and for human rights organisations to take leadership from intersex organisations when working on intersex issues through the principle of “nothing about us without us”.

For more information, contact SAIF at

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