What we do

Across Asia, civil society activists, people living with HIV, sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and other marginalized groups face serious challenges to their human rights, including a lack of access to healthcare and protection against discrimination and violence. Asia Catalyst builds leadership at the grassroots level, supporting a strong civil society through organizational and advocacy capacity building.

Catalyzing activism and visibility

Our Capacity Building and Community Initiatives Program provides training and coaching for up and-coming leaders to build knowledge, skills, and resources and connect with one another. Our Rights Training Program brings together healthcare and policy advocates to understand, document, and advocate for their human rights. Participants forge new partnerships with peer organizations nationally and regionally, and undertake ambitious human rights projects to help those in their communities. In 2015, for example, activists from Cambodia, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam worked together to document and advocate against HIV discrimination in healthcare settings.

Through our Advocacy, Research, and Policy Program, we collaborate with local groups on research to increase the evidence base for rights-friendly policies, and conduct advocacy to end discrimination and increase human rights protections for all. Recent community-led initiatives include promoting access to appropriate, comprehensive health services for transgender people and addressing law enforcement barriers to HIV prevention in China. We use diverse media platforms to raise awareness of these issues and are regularly quoted in the international press, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, and the BBC.

What are Asia Catalyst’s greatest accomplishments?

Some of our major achievements include the establishment of China’s first legal aid center for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. We also partnered with Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group and Dongjen Center for Human Rights Education and Action in China to develop, pilot, and produce Know It, Prove It, Change It: A Rights Curriculum for Grassroots Groups. This three-volume manual is a definitive civil society training tool, available in Chinese, Thai, Burmese, and English and has been used by groups across Asia to strengthen their human rights work. Our most recent accomplishment is launching China’s first Transgender Leadership Program in 2016.

Asia Catalyst produces human rights documentation reports, often in partnership with marginalized communities such as sex workers and people living with HIV; several of these garnered major media attention, including front page stories in the New York Times and other major media. These publications shine a light on human rights activism in Asia, add to policy-makers’ understanding and create an evidence base for supporting social change and rights-based national policy.