ILO training course for LGBTI

ILO helps open doors to the labour market for LGBTI people in Brazil

Landmark pilot project inspires broader strategy to promote decent and productive work for vulnerable groups.

Feature | 16 August 2018
SÃO PAULO (ILO News) – “Windows and doors open and close, curtains inside balling up…” – Daniela Delli declaims the verses of Martha Medeiros, a well-known Brazilian author, at the graduation ceremony of the second edition of an ILO training course for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Brazil’s most populous city.

"This poem has to do with the life history of many transgender and LGBTI people suffering from transphobia and discrimination by society and their family," explains Delli. She was expelled from her home at the age of 17 because of her gender identity. Today she works as coordinator of Casa 1, a space for LGBTI culture and hospitality in the city of São Paulo.

Delli is one of the 16 transvestite and transgender women who participated in the 2nd edition of the kitchen assistant course organized in April 2018 by the project "Employability of Trans People – Kitchen & Voice". The joint initiative of the Brazilian Public Ministry of Labour and the ILO promotes inclusion of LGBTI people in the formal job market.

The course involved classes in nine disciplines providing the basic skills for work in a restaurant kitchen, including salad dressing techniques, preparation of fish, meat and vegetables, waste handling and food storage. To develop the learners’ interpersonal communication skills and self-confidence, a poetry workshop was held with actress and journalist Elisa Lucinda and her partner, the actress and director Geovana Pires.

"Poetry has greatly helped those who have often difficulties to speak up, communicate and express themselves," says Thais Faria, the ILO project coordinator.

In keeping with the principles of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, no worker should be left behind."

Martin Hahn, Director of the ILO country office for Brazil
The joint initiative is coordinated by the Argentinian Paola Carosella, who is well known in Brazil as an outstanding Chef was responsible for elaborating the training curriculum. Together with her partner, the entrepreneur Benny Goldenberg, Carosella has also set up a network with companies to offer jobs to participants and launch campaigns against transgender prejudice.

Yasmin Bispo participated in 2017 in the first edition of the kitchen assistant course. This year she has joined the Kitchen & Voice team again to select and support the students of the second edition. "So it was necessary to have a transgender person in the team to ease the dialogue with the participating women. It has been an enriching experience for me", she says.

"[The course] has given me a new perspective for my own life, it made me feel that I am capable "It did a lot to raise my self-esteem, my dignity… because society takes away our right to be ourselves and prefers to forget that we exist”.

Vanessa Holanda was one of Yasmin's colleagues in the first edition of the training course: "Before, I did not have much of a chance to find formal work.” After graduation from the ILO course, Holanda was hired by Sodexo, a global company which also runs restaurants in Brazil. "The response of the company was extremely positive and today I feel welcomed in my new work environment."

Sodexo Brazil’s President, Andreia Dutra, sees Vanessa's hiring as an indicator of change towards more diversity in her company’s corporate culture: "I believe that, with this edition [of the course], we will be able to encourage other companies to adhere to the project and unite in promoting the employability of a very talented and still largely excluded portion of the population."

Widening impact

The Kitchen & Voice project educated the first group at the end of 2017 and managed to bring about 70 per cent of participants into jobs offered by a network of partner companies.

“This August the third and fourth classes will begin simultaneously in São Paulo, which means that by September we should have around 40 new graduates”, says Thais Faria. “Our partnership with the National Forum of Companies and LGBTI Rights covers now more than 40 multinational and national companies”.

For Chef Paola Carosella, the Kitchen & Voice has enormous potential to expand and serve different groups of people, in different ways, in order to help get them into the job market. "This project needs to grow and continue," she says.

Kitchen & Voice is part of a National Employability Project for the LGBTI population and is expected to expand its geographic scope to other Brazilian states, including Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Goiás and Pará. It could also be extended to other target groups such as disadvantaged young black people.
So the initiative may become part of a broader strategy to promote opportunities for all vulnerable groups to accede to decent and productive work.

“Despite progress, much remains to be done to make workplaces more inclusive for LGBTI and their families. In keeping with the principles of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, no worker should be left behind”, concludes Martin Hahn, Director of the ILO country office for Brazil.