Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC) is a female sex work led initiative established in 2015 by champions of sex worker leaders and Activists to promote the role of upcountry/rural based sex worker-led CBOs in driving the response to programs that support young women who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally between (15-24yrs) and sex worker’s efforts to overcome stigma and discrimination and other human rights violations fuelled by criminalization and cultural norms attached to sex work. The alliance’s mission is “to strengthen a unified, vibrant national and sustainable sex workers’ movement calling for an enabling environment and scale up of access to comprehensive HIV/TB/SRHR including viral load suppression and PrEP services for sex workers and young women who engage in sex work (15-24yrs) countrywide”. Through creating awareness on the economic welfare needs of sex workers, policy analysis, sensitisation, awareness trainings for policy makers and service providers, lobbying and advocacy, research and consultations to address the gaps in the legal and policy frameworks at all levels.
AWAC particularly focuses on addressing the root causes of vulnerability and marginalization such as gender based violence, criminalization, poverty, stigma and cultural norms both at individual, community and national level. AWAC also focuses on building the capacity of upcountry based sex worker-led CBOs/groups to ensure their organizations become accountable, independent, financially viable, well governed and well managed in order to play significant role in responding to the health needs of sex workers by using the bottom up approach.
AWAC was founded to strengthen Community Systems Structures (SW led CBOs & CSGs), mentoring of new emerging sex worker leader (ADCs & CliFs) after the implementation of the “Link Up Advocacy and Mentorship Programme“, The project aimed at empowering young people most affected by HIV to control their sexual & reproductive health including key population because the existing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services rarely meet their diverse needs in a comprehensive way. They often fail to take into account structural factors that compound vulnerability to HIV and other STIs such as gender-based inequalities and violence, poverty, harmful cultural practices, policies and laws that criminalize same-sex practices, sex work, drug use, and HIV transmission. The project was supported by International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IAA) through a global consortium comprised of ATHENA Network and Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) working with national partners including Community Health Alliance Uganda (CHAU) to implement a national and global policy activities, and priorities working with key populations and youth advocates to support and ensure meaningful participation in policy and advocacy. AWAC is legally registered as company limited by guarantee in 2016 under Reg. No. 220998 in Uganda and has a membership of 20 sex work led organizations/groups across the 8 HIV prevalence regions in Uganda (West-Nile, Mid-Northern, North East, Mid-Eastern, Central (1), (2), East-Central, Mid-Western and South-Western. Each member CBO/Drop-in centres have significant reach throughout the region working with female sex workers and young women who engage in sex work at individual, community and national level.
“Empowered sex workers and young women who engage in sex work (15-24yrs) living a healthy life and their rights fully respected and observed in Uganda”.
“To strengthen a unified, vibrant national and sustainable sex workers’ movement calling for an enabling environment and scale up of access to comprehensive HIV/TB/SRHR including viral load and PrEP services for sex workers and young women who engage in sex work (15-24yrs) countrywide”.
To raise awareness on the economic welfare needs of SWs and girls who engage in sex work so that they pursue and achieve their personal dreams by supporting them to establish their own business agencies as a way of creating employment opportunities to achieve economic security hence reduce the risks and vulnerability they face in the mainstream society.
To strengthen the institutional capacity of AWAC Secretariat and its members (sex work led CBOs) for good governance, accountability, advocacy and service delivery leading to a unified, vibrant national sustainable sex work movement in Uganda.
To call for improved policy framework guaranteeing equal access to quality HIV and Equal Sexual Reproductive Health related services for upcountry based sex workers and young women who engage in sex work between (15-24 yrs);
To respond to stigma, discrimination and violence experienced by upcountry based sex workers as result of criminalizing sex work in Uganda.
To provide information and knowledge management, research and learning.
AWAC Core values:
Accountability and transparency.
Empowerment and participation
Human -right -based approach to health and equality
Evidence based programming.
Respect and care for each other.
- A grassroots advocacy membership Alliance,
- Led by and for sex workers,
- Participatory processes
- Bringing sex workers’ voices in health policies and programming