Making the Global Fund Work for Sex Workers

Why is the Global Fund Important for Sex Workers?
Technical Support


The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created in 2002 as an international financing and partnership organisation to respond to what were then the deadliest pandemics confronting the world. 

The Global Fund raises funds on a three-year cycle. Governments, the private sector, private foundations, high net worth individuals and non-governmental organisations are invited to pledge funds to support their mission.

NSWP has been working directly with the Global Fund since 2015. Through the Community Rights and Gender Strategic Initiative we have a specific post in the Secretariat team that is dedicated to Global Fund engagement; this is the Senior Programme Officer. This post is there to support sex workers’ engagement in Global Fund processes; provide training, technical support and guidance; develop various tools to help NSWP members understand Global Fund processes such as Smart Guides, videos, briefing notes, and webinars; and respond to questions and queries about Global Fund processes including facilitating dialogue with Fund Portfolio Managers and Country Teams.

NSWP also has membership on the Global Fund Communities Delegation to the Board and although the role is to represent all communities, it does provide direct access for NSWP to Global Fund Board discussions, and provides an opportunity to promote sex worker issues whenever possible.

Engagement with the Community Rights and Gender Strategic Initiative enables NSWP to provide sub grants to selected national partners. These grants are for 3 years and must be related to national partners’ Global Fund activities. These activities include developing community-led monitoring of Global Fund funded services; building relationships with and becoming members of Country Coordinating Mechanisms; training for sex workers on Global Fund processes; building the sex worker movement in the country; initiating pilot projects; and advocacy for service improvements and on gender-based violence and other human rights abuses that impact sex workers.

Why is the Global Fund Important for Sex Workers?

The Global Fund structures and processes provide a rare opportunity for sex workers to be involved in funding and health service decisions that directly impact their lives.

But the challenges sex workers must overcome to “have a seat at the table” are many, including criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, lack of resources, and a lack of knowledge about the Global Fund and its processes. Sex workers must also be recognised as experts in their own lives and needs – not just as a tokenistic gesture but as key to ensuring Global Fund resources are effectively allocated to address the disproportionate burden of HIV carried by sex workers in all their diversity.

Technical Support

An important part of the NSWP programme is to develop regional sex worker experts, through a comprehensive training programme (both face to face when possible and virtually), online mentoring and support, backed up with a series of visual aids such as videos, written resources, including our most recent Smart Sex Worker's Guide, and several Case Studies

The training programme covers a wide range of topics, which may be included in their entirety or it is possible to select different topics. Topics include an overview of the Global Fund; the Community Rights and Gender Team – who they are and what they do; Country Teams – who they are, how they function, what their roles are; and National processes and Country Dialogue – defining country dialogue, how it works, key elements, and who can/should be involved.

Technical Support can take many forms from WhatsApp calls, Zoom meetings, online training, and resources which contain advice and guidance on different Global Fund processes. We also host a series of Ask Any Questions virtual sessions on different Global Fund issues and facilitate Peer to Peer sharing sessions. These online sessions are for sex workers to share their experiences with other sex workers.

Support can be specific such as how to manage a sex worker CCM election process, including guidance on the role and function of a sex worker CCM representative, or set up a sex worker Community Led Monitoring system, to more generally clarifying a particular Global Fund policy or system.

Since the start of the NSWP Global Fund capacity-building programmes, NSWP members have gained representation on CCMs, become sub-recipients of Global Fund grants, built relationships with Ministries of Health and PRs, and gained knowledge and understanding of Global Fund and other national decision-making processes. 


NSWP continue to provide a regular stream of written and visual aids to strengthen sex workers’ understanding of the Global Fund and its processes.

Smart Guides

Global Fund Strategy 2023–2028: The Smart Sex Worker’s Guide

The 2023-2028 Global Fund Strategy will guide Global Fund approaches, decision-making, and investment for the next 6 years in a 70-page document. It is important because it describes what the Global Fund will do and how it will do it. The Strategy will influence how investment will be disbursed at the country level, how and who will implement programmes, and how and who will be involved in making the decisions. This Smart Guide tries to simplify two components of the Global Fund Strategy:

  1. The Strategy Framework, which provides a broad overview, and
  2. The Strategy Narrative, which is complex and goes into detail about how the Global Fund will implement the strategy.

The Smart Sex Worker's Guide to The Global Fund

The Smart Sex Worker's Guide to The Global Fund is a quick reference guide to help sex workers understand the Global Fund and its complex structures. The guide is helpful to sex worker organisations who are already receiving funding from the Global Fund as well as to those who hope to receive funding from the Fund in the future.

Global Fund Basics Videos

This series aims to simplify different areas of the Global Fund, from the Global Fund Strategy to Country Coordinating Mechanisms. 

Global Fund Basics: The Board, Constituencies/Delegations, and Committees

In this video, you'll hear about the history of the Global Fund, how it's structured, how it works, the three civil society delegations and the three standing committees.

Global Fund Basics: Country Coordinating Mechanisms

 In this set of 4 videos, learn more about Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCM’s). The CCM is responsible for identifying the work that needs to be done in HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and submitting technical proposals to the Global Fund, identifying the Principle Recipient and overseeing the implementation of grants.

Global Fund Basics: Catalytic Investments

 In this video, learn more about Catalytic Investments. Catalytic Investments are a portion of funding for the Global Fund supported programmes, activities and strategic investments that are not fully covered through country allocations.

Global Fund Basics: Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028

 This set of videos covers the new Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028. 

Global Fund Basics: Making Use of the Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028 in Advocacy

This short video is about using the Global Fund Strategy 2023 - 2028 in advocacy work. What we have tried to do in this video is pick out some important areas where we feel referencing commitments in the Global Fund Strategy could make a difference.

Case Studies

Making the Global Fund Work for Sex Workers: Global Fund Case Study 2020

This case study describes the journey of sex worker-led organisations in gaining knowledge about the Global Fund and its national processes to ensure the meaningful involvement of sex workers in 2020 Global Fund funding proposals development, and explores the barriers that sex workers face.

Enhancing sex workers’ capacity to engage with Global Fund processes: Evaluating NSWP’s 2018 capacity building programme

This case study focuses on the NSWP’s Global Fund capacity development programme for regional and national sex worker-led organisations, and assesses its impact. The programme supports a range of capacity building activities in 27 countries, and this case study focuses on the impact of these interventions in 2018. Specifically, the case study highlights the ability of regional networks and community experts to provide technical support relating to the Global Fund, and the capacity within sex worker-led organisations to engage with the Global Fund.

Enhancing Community Capacity to Engage with Global Fund Processes Case Study

This case study is a follow-up to The Global Fund Workshops case study published in 2015. The Global Fund workshops were a series of five-day workshops which took place in 2015. In 2016, the Regional Community Experts, supported by National Community Experts, provided a series of workshops in 18 countries and helped implement country-level follow up activities through virtual technical support. NSWP’s Senior Programme Officer supported the Regional Community Experts. This case study describes the goals, strategies and impact of the national-level workshops and country-level follow-up activities.

The Global Fund Workshop Case Study

The Global Fund workshops are a series of five-day workshops which took place in 2015, organised by NSWP in partnership with regional sex worker-led networks. The Global Fund is one of the world’s largest funders for providing testing, treatment and care for people living with HIV. The workshops are designed to provide sex worker communities with essential information for understanding The Global Fund. This case study describes the goals, strategies and impact of the workshops.