Advocacy and lobbying for policy change

Advocacy and lobbying for policy change

Aidsfonds supports in-country partners to advance the health and rights of sex workers. The promotion and protection of the human rights of sex workers is essential in increasing sex workers’ access to HIV testing, treatment and care. In-country partners implement advocacy campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination, increase access to health and justice, for sex work to be recognised as work and to decriminalise sex work. Here you can read best practices and lessons learned in lobbying and advocating for the upholding of sex worker’s rights.

Pam's tips: advocating for sex workers' rights

Pamela Chakuvinga is the assistant coordinator of Sisonke  in South Africa. She shares practical tips for sex workers advocating for sex workers' rights and justice, and how Sisonke made sure that sex workers were visible during the court case around the murder of sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo. The murderer was sentenced to 18 years in prison. 

Pamela Chakuvinga from Sisonke shares her tips and tricks on advocacting for justice and decriminalisation

Best practice: setting the political agenda

Rights not Rescue Trust promotes sex workers' rights in Namibia. By joining forces with other key population and women groups the organisation managed to get sex workers' rights on the political agenda. Read their story on the power of alliance building for change. 



Lobbying for policy change Lobbying for policy change

Creating evidence for lobby and advocacy

When Hands Off began, Aidsfonds and sex workers embarked on a large study on sex work and violence to create evidence. Across five countries in Southern Africa, sex workers and partner organisations were involved in designing survey questionnaires, trained as research assistants to interview their peers. Results have informed the overall approach of the programme, and they have made a critical difference in the work undertaken by sex worker advocates. The Hands Off team and research assistants described this best practice in an article on participatory research.

sex work & violence research
Trained research assistants conduct the survey
sex work & violence research
Trained research assistants conduct the survey

Successfully advocate for change

  1. Ensure that sex workers are at the core of your lobby & advocacy 
  2. Train and empower sex workers to have confidence and speak out
  3. Carefully identify your advocate: for example use a transgender sex worker to speak out on transgender sex work issues
  4. Use real life stories; it makes people listen
  5. Research the person you lobby and try to find his/ her interests to gain access
  6. Find allies and build coalitions
  7. Positively frame your message
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What we've learned

To reduce the structural barriers for sex workers and to shift the attitudes of the police, healthcare and others service workers, and communities advocacy campaigns need to be sustained. In this, it is important to:

  1. Involve sex workers in all advocacy at all levels -for example, by sex workers demonstrating (locally, provincially or nationally) or attending parliamentary meetings
  2. Continue to document and analyse reported human rights violations and identify strategic litigation cases that could be taken up
  3. Be aware that stigma and discrimination can increase when rights are asserted and sex workers are more visible in media. To mitigate this, identify strategies to support sex workers, such as providing psychosocial support
Jesus was the first
A church in South Africa openly supporting sex workers' rights
Jesus was the first
A church in South Africa openly supporting sex workers' rights uses cookies to offer the best website experience possible and to anonymously analyze website behaviour. More information.