3rd Edition of Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA) Kicks Off In Nairobi Kenya

Uganda Team

The third edition of the Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA) kicked off on 16th March and will end on 22nd of March 2023 in the Kenyan capital -Nairobi.

ALESWA is a new knowledge and capacity model whose objective is to strengthen the capacity of emerging and existing sex workers leaders to create a robust sex workers movement in Africa. ALESWA is an extensive knowledge and skills building training model to build the resilience of individuals and organizations in the next three years.

The focus areas are the Africa human rights frameworks underpinning social protection for marginalised groups such as sex workers. Social protection refers to measures aimed at preventing and addressing situations which negatively affect people’s well being, as well as measures which reduce vulnerability and facilitate social and economic stability.

The following are the faculty members;

  1. Mary Mwangi
  2. Melvin Oginge
  3. Ostreous Olevin
  4. Felix Otieno
  5. Samuel Githaiga
  6. Nicole Ondisa
  7. Sylvia Okoth

Participants have come from 3 East African countries namely;

  1. Uganda
  2. Tanzania
  3. Kenya

The 18 participants come from the following organisations:


1. Uganda Network of Sex Workers Organizations (UNESO)

2. Women’s Positive Empowerment Initiative

3. Service Workers in Group Foundation Uganda

4. Dream Center for Women Empowerment

5. Organization for Gender Empowerment & Rights Advocacy

6. Trans Advocacy Initiative Uganda


1. Women With Dignity

2. Unit Group Njombe



5. East Africa Sex Workers Alliance (EASWA)

6. Shinyanga Tuinuane Vijana

KENYA (Kenya Sex Workers Alliance)

1. Divas Of Changamwe

2. Kisumu Sex Workers Alliance (KISWA)

3. Coast Sex Workers Alliance (COSWA)

4. Smart Ladies KP Organization

5. SWOP Ambassadors

6. True Vine Mentors

The objective of the training is to enable the participants to understand the following:

  • The Human Rights Framework
  • Social protection issues for sex workers
  • The necessity of social protection and SRHR on sex work and sex workers
  • The survey methodology
  • And finally, to understand and conduct the survey on social protection and SRHR issues

Participants Expectations

  1. Forge ways to effectively build a unified and transformative movement of sex workers
  2. To understand more on leadership program and skills
  3. Learn about ALESWA and its main focus
  4. Improve leadership capacity in sustainable sex work programming and organizing
  5. How to cope up with pressure as a leader of a criminalized community
  6. To enhance my security skills during advocacy for sex workers
  7. Solidify sex workers advocacy
  8. Know the milestones of East Africa sex workers Movement.
  9. To know the mandate of UNHCR and also understand the status and the rights of the migrant, refugees and asylum seekers sex workers
  10. To exchange ideas

Opening session

Africa Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) Regional Coordinator Grace Kamau said that ALESWA will facilitate bringing the non-conventional and also emerging donors to start funding sex workers in Africa.

The faculty members explained some of the human rights mechanism as follows

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was defined as an international legal instrument that requires countries to eliminate discrimination against women and girls in all areas and promotes women’s and girls’ equal rights. Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW has 30 articles and is often referred to as the ‘women’s bill of rights’ and was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 December, 1979. 189 countries have ratified CEDAW.

Maputo Protocol

It was discussed that under Maputo Protocol, States Parties are called upon to take all appropriate measures to “protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother. Countries that have not ratified protocol were listed as follows; Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Egypt, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Sudan to urgently ratify the Protocol.

On Article 14 Health and Reproductive Rights; States Parties shall ensure that the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health is respected and promoted.


East Africa Sex Workers Alliance (EASWA) Coordinator Clara Davis said that sex workers’ organisations should conduct an assessment to understand why refugees sex workers leave their countries and the challenges they face as they leave their countries and also how they identify themselves to the migration departments for example as LGBTQ or sex workers. The results of the assessment should be used for advocacy for the promotion of the rights of the refugees and migrant sex workers.

The facilitators urged the participants to learn how to ensure the sustainability of sex workers programs. The participants in Tanzania shared how they engaged in advocacy that stopped the anal examinations. The participants were urged to use the human rights mechanisms to advocate for the rights of sex workers.


The participants recommended that ALESWA should include training on mental wellness and also how sex workers leaders should manage their mental challenges like how to handle stress while advocating for the rights of the criminalized community.

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