The Sex Workers Academy Africa (SWAA) is a ground-breaking learning programme for community empowerment and capacity building led by and for sex workers. The Academy brings together sex workers’ national teams from across Africa to develop organising skills, learn best practices, stimulate national sex worker movements, and strengthen the regional network.The Academy aims to strengthen the sex workers’ rights movement across Africa, through building the capacity of sex workers to engage in policy, programme development, and implementation, and through strengthening sex worker-led organisations, and national sex workers’ networks.
An advisory group of sex workers drawn from across Africa guides the SWAA. The Academy is facilitated by a faculty of Kenyan sex workers trained to implement the curriculum developed through collaboration with Ashodaya Academy and VAMP Institute (sex worker collectives) in India, the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).
The SWAA has been developed as a Pan-African resource to build the capacity of sex workers, and their national movements to influence policy, and programming, and to develop their own services. Each SWAA academy trains 18 sex workers as community mobilisers during a 7-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya.
SWAA participants visit two demonstration sites of sex worker-led organisations – Bar Hostesses Empowerment and Support programme (BHESP), and Health Options for Young Men on HIV and AIDS (HOYMAS) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Each SWAA academy trains a team of sex workers from three different African countries with a requirement that a French or Portuguese speaking country must participate. Kenya participates in all the academies so that future faculty members can be identified and trained.
Participating sex workers are nominated as part of the national team of their countries and are required to attend all sessions in the seven days of the academy. At the end of the academy, participants who graduate are awarded certificates of competence.
Read about the history of the academy here: Case study of the Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA)