Sex Workers Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women's Rights and Justice


This report shares highlights and insights from the four recipients of AWID’s “Innovation Seed Grants” whose projects focused on advancing the rights of sex workers. These projects reflect the culmination of a process of engagement and collaboration between AWID and diverse sex worker groups and coalitions around AWIDs 2012 International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development.

Organised around the theme of Transforming Eco-nomic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice, the 2012 Forum sought to help participants gain a stronger understanding around economic issues; re-energise participants, especially with regard to their engagement in economic debates; link and connect diverse women’s rights advocates, movements and allies; and contribute to forward-looking proposals for transforming econom-ic power. Linked to this last objective, AWID mobilised resources for “Innovation Seed Grants” to support Fo-rum participants to convert some of the creative ideas, solutions, and connections sparked at the Forum into reality. Following the 2012 Forum, AWID was able to award a total of twenty-four USD 5,000 seed grants.

This report tell the stories of the seed grant experiences of the Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE), Red Umbrella Project (RedUP), Debo-lina Dutta in collaboration with sex worker collectives DMSC and VAMP, and Aids Myanmar Association National Network of Sex Work Projects (AMA). The four offer rich insights into how sex workers are transforming economic power to advance women’s rights and justice. They also offer useful lessons for funders seeking to support sex worker organising as well as lessons for collaborative organising and engagement between sex workers and other women’s rights and feminist activists. 

All of the work reflected in this report  was either directly led by sex workers or involved their close engagement in shaping the focus and priorities of the work. “Nothing about us, without us” has been a theme throughout this process and the relevance of that organising principle is amply illustrated here. The sex worker project organisers and participants were able to craft and adapt the projects as needed to respond to contextual realities, challenges faced along the way, and shifting needs and priorities. 

You can download this 18 page resource as a PDF above. This resource is available in English, French, and Spanish.