Enza: Creating a Stronger, Safer Society for the LGBTI+ Community in South Africa

CW: The following article references sexual abuse and violence.

Despite the fact that South Africa recognizes the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community (LGBTI+), it has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, including “corrective rape” targeted at lesbians to “fix” their sexuality. While first responders, especially police officers, are meant to support rape victims, many are not informed about obligations, procedures, and timelines. Additionally, while Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), a treatment meant to prevent HIV infection after potential exposure, is accessible at most public clinics in South Africa, many in the LGBTI+ community do not know that this treatment is available for them. Education and advocacy are a major concern for this vulnerable population.

This is where South African NGO Enza Social Research (“Enza”) steps in. For the past 17 years, Enza has worked to improve the lives of South Africa’s LGBTI+ community by addressing gender-based violence and enabling access to social, health, and justice services. Enza does so through three major methods:

  1. Accreditation training and education - Enza provides training courses for a number of audiences including government agencies, civil society, and the private sector. Many of the courses focus on developing the capacity of frontline workers providing health and justice services to meet the needs of the LGBTI community, particularly those who have been targets of hate crimes.
  2. Research: Enza specializes in research with a specific focus on LGBTI+ inclusion. Methods include Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, and Beliefs (KAPB) surveys, impact assessments, and needs, gaps, and situational analyses.
  3. Advocacy and community development: Enza’s evidence-based advocacy work, often in partnership with other NGOs, promotes awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity in an effort to move toward inclusivity.

 Enza training of police on SOGIE, hate crimes and HIV prevention. 

NGOsource's Role 

Enza first went through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in the fall of 2018. By working through our local South Africa-based partner, Phambano, NGOsource provided Enza with localized support. All of NGOsource’s nine global partners, including Phambano, provide high-quality support in NGOs’ respective time zones while also working to connect NGOs to more flexible funding. We spoke with Tracy Jean-Pierre of Enza about the process, who noted:

We were thrilled when we met all of the requirements and excited to learn that this assessment could open doors for us with other funders who may be interested in funding our work. We are very proud of our certification and plan to include it in all of our future grant solicit[ation]s.

NGOs like Enza benefit from the credibility that NGOsource’s legal analysis provides. By becoming an NGOsource member, grantmakers can save close to $8,000 in ED costs and access $250 ED certificates within one business day for NGOs like Enza that are already in the NGOsource centralized repository.


In addition to having the highest incidents of “generalized rape,” South Africa also has high rates of “corrective rape,” which is the rape of lesbians by men or gangs in the community under the belief that the rape will result in a “correction” of her sexual orientation. This video documents the case of Nonkie Smous, who was the victim of a deadly corrective rape that resulted in her murder. In the month that Enza buried Nonkie, Enza also buried five other lesbian women in the same province. 

ED in Action

One of Enza’s main initiatives focuses on training frontline police officers on providing comprehensive and competent services to rape and sexual assault survivors. The program seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections in marginalized and at-risk victims, which are largely driven by rape and sexual assault. This is done by educating first responders on protocol and providing sexual orientation and gender identity training that help the police to work through biases and ensure that justice services are provided to these vulnerable groups, especially the LGBTI+ community that has historically been denied access to services.

The funding that Enza received as a result of the ED process with NGOsource has allowed it to expand on this educational outreach. Notably, Enza’s advocacy work helped ensure the drafting of a set of standards on how to extend competent police services to the LGBTI+ community. This was the first time in the entire continent of Africa that standards have been drafted for any police services focused on serving the LGTBI+ community. Enza expanded the curriculum of its training to include these new standards in the first quarter of 2019 and plans to continue to develop new materials and broaden its reach working with police officers. Enza sees the clear need for the full rights of the LGBTI+ community to be recognized, and it is making strides toward this goal one step at a time.

Top photo: A group of lesbian and transgender community members who participated in and will benefit from Enza's work with police to secure their rights

All images and video used with permission from Enza Social Research © 2019.