In light of the series of unfortunate events and misguided statements based solely on truncated information that have been circulating lately through different networks and platforms, it is now the right time for AFE to address the issue at hand in an open and transparent way.
Since its inception in 2009, AFE was, is, and will always be committed to the set of values that made it a pioneer in gender equality and sexuality rights in Lebanon and the region. We faced many obstacles including death threats and limitation on what we can say and where we can say it. But we never faced a systemic attack questioning our ethics and values. Through its remarkable journey over the past decade, the organization prides itself to have never compromised “Integrity & Equality”, “Transparency & Accountability”, “Non-Discrimination” and “Freedom & Self-Determination” all of which were and will always remain the guiding principles throughout AFE’s mission.
Supported by the hard work and commitment of its staff, members and our community, AFE has succeeded at taking LGBTQ+ activism to the next level, strengthening our narrative, credibility and outreach. This has been possible because we thought, debated, planned and communicated approaches based on research programs, scientific reports and factual data, with a solid operational model in place.
In the last year alone, over 20 organizations across the MENA region have been supported by AFE and more than 500 activists participated in AFE’s trainings and conferences. AFE works with over 25 partners across 13 countries in the MENA region in a hostile and challenging environment. This is taking place in a region where LGBTQ+ individuals continue to be hunted down, killed, beaten up and thrown in prison for expressing themselves. When we started, we called ourselves the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality to emphasize these values and put them in service of everyone with no discrimination and no bias.
Being the subject of a defamatory campaign is not new to our field of operation.
However, the most important for our cause and to the preservation of AFE’s legacy is to put the truth out there. The truth is: our journey would not have been sustainable without good governance, transparency and best operation practices, without proper communication to all board members and stakeholders, and finally without a real audit led by a reliable independent third party, in our case, “Global Auditing Enterprise”. In addition to that, AFE’s internal financial mechanisms were reviewed by international organizations like the “The Global Fund” and the “Robert Carr Fund”.
At the event of the resignation of its board members, AFE has the duty to ensure the continuity of its operation but also to reflect and learn from all this experience. To that end, we will immediately embark on the process of electing a new board. To maintain the trust of our community and our supportive donors, we have charted a participatory process based on a feminist methodology using social listening as a tool to be responsive to the people we seek to serve and support:
1) Recruit a committee of external experts nominated by AFE’s partners and donors to oversee an internal restructuring process;
2) Invite a new board to oversee a transition in the internal executive structure and processes;
3) Collaborate with any request for a process of evaluation of both our management and programs.
Working ethically and transparently has always been at the core of its conviction and work ethics and will always be its duty to the community, its donors and supporters. The reputation of AFE, its donors and supporters who trust us, is our primary responsibility, and we will not refrain from taking any necessary measure to protect this reputation and the years of hard work, trust, and commitment.
It has taken 10 years of hard work, commitment, and compliance to the highest standards to get us to where we are today. We appreciate everyone’s heartfelt feedback and we vow to improve our internal systems with your support, trust and expertise.
The AFE Team