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ASWA

African Sex Workers Alliance

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Eswatini: Voice of Our Voices

                           

  • Outline the history of your organization. How and why was your organization formed?

Voice of Our Voices was formed in 2017 by 56 sex workers who come from the four regions of Eswatini, who had faced challenges including access to health services, human rights violation from members of the public, clients and uniform forces also the violence that comes from the sex workers among themselves.

The “supergroup” which gave birth to VOOV was a task team for sex workers that worked with the Ministry of Health in addressing the health needs of sex workers. At the supergroup, each hotspot (four geographic focus areas) was represented by two sex workers from all the four regions of the country. The supergroup met monthly to discuss issues of sex workers from different hotspots. This platform was also used for capacity building for the sex workers on topics that were chosen by them. The supergroup meetings started in 2014 and were hosted by the Ministry of Health Swaziland National Aids Program, HC3, and later FHI360. The birth of VOOV was formulated and crafted in these meetings. FHI360 and Pact played a pivotal role, by providing the venue, meals, transport, and technical support for the meetings together to influence change in their work spaces through supporting each other whenever challenges come up.

  • What are the top priority issues and are of greatest concern that your organization focuses on?

Our priority areas are to advocate for social change and the protection of sex workers, linking sex workers with service providers, distribution of health commodities to sex workers and improving their standard of living and sustainability through Economic strengthening.

VOOV is currently Implementing the KPIF and , Triple -R  projects. VOOV has been supported with office space at Mbandzeni Office Number 63 in the Mbabane City in Eswatini. VOOV is a member of ASWA and NSWP, and the organization conducts national activities, funded through ASWA and NSWP after Eswatini VOOV participants graduated in the SWAA (Sex Workers Academy Africa).

  • How does VOOV serve sex workers?

VOOV serves the sex workers through ensuring that their voices are heard, involved in any decision making, give the capacity building through empowering them knowing their rights, support them during hard times, Link them with service providers, we are their ambassadors in different forums where we advocate for policy reform.

  • Tell us what makes your organization distinct and stand out from the others in sex work project?

Voice of our Voices is a unique organization founded by sex workers and implements sex worker’s programs for the community members. Its distinct is that sex workers are having a full vote in decision making. All programs are designed  with meaningful  engagement of sex workers and we have qualified staff that serve sex workers in a dignify way observing all human rights protocols.

  • How many staff and what are you doing to enhance the Capacity (knowledge, skills, systems, and structures of the organization?

VOOV has twenty-five staff, fourteen for KPIF and eleven for Triple R. All staff are hired full time. VOOV has  a board of Directors where the ED  reports.

  • Do you do political advocacy for sex workers? What kind?

Yes, I do political advocacy. Law reform, ensuring that sex workers meet with national and key influential people to voice out their views while enjoying freedom of speech.

  • What challenges does your organisation face now and  in the future?

We have some challenges with data storage as an organization

  • What does your organization want to do now but not able and why?

 We wish to give capacity to all sex workers in using IT, increase and secure their livelihoods and  community empowerment but we are inadequately resourced.

  • What does your organization want to do in future?

We want to serve VOOV beneficiaries, have an office apartment that we won’t rent. We want to empower sex workers on different skills of making a living without oppression (economic strengthening that can enhance the sex workers to be independent. VOOV will serve all beneficiaries without any discrimination.

  • What idea or opinion does the organisation have for the sex worker movement and also for the people who are not in the movement?

VOOV wishes to grow the movement,. VOOV want their beneficiaries to build a long-standing response to the community. For people outside, we plead that they should know sex workers are humans like everyone, so they should stop discriminating, talking hate speeches about sex workers.

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