Call for Nominations for Community Advisory Board (CAB) on the Cervical Cancer Awareness and Prevention Pilot Project

With Support from the Medical College of Wisconsin, we are delighted to communicate that we are launching a pilot project on awareness and prevention of cervical cancer among Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in their diversities and other marginalized women. Being a grassroot FSW umbrella network, we are inviting the participation of you – our members to nominate yourselves or colleague to serve on the Community Advisory Board (CAB) of the Cervical Cancer awareness and prevention Pilot Project. The cervical cancer awareness and prevention pilot project will be implemented in Kampala and Wakiso, the site will be at AWAC DiC in Rubaga division.

Find the details of the nomination form on this link

From Marginalization to Empowerment: The Struggle for Labor Rights of Female Sex Workers

As a Pan-African national network of  grass-root Female Sex Work led organizations in Uganda, today we acknowledge the work of sex workers through raising awareness of their struggles and amplify their resilient voices in the fight for their fundamental labor rights, and social justice for a more equitable and inclusive society that values and respects all forms of labor.

Check the full blog on this link

Navigating Change Through the Power of community Resilience

We are excited to bring to you our January —March 2023, quarter newsletter —designed to keep you informed about the latest developments and activities taking place at AWAC. We are committed to building strong relationships with our partners and grass-root members and believe that an open and transparent communication channel is key to achieving this. Our newsletter covers a range of topics related to our organization, grass-root members and partners. This quarter’s issue include updates on our initiatives, projects, and partnerships, as well as opportunities for collaboration and engagement. Additionally, we feature our success stories, news and insights from partnerships. We hope that our newsletter serves as a valuable resource for you, and provides you with the information you need to stay connected with our work. We are always open to feedback and would welcome any suggestions you may have on how we can improve it.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership, and we look forward to continue sharing our updates and insights with you even in the upcoming issues of our quarterly newsletters. Find the full version of the newsletter on this link

Refueling a Chorus of Feminist Grass-root Female Sex Workers’ Voice in a New Narrative of Resistance for Reproductive and Maternal Wellness

International Women’s Day -2023

Yesterday as we commemorated the International Women’s day 2023, we convened a public national community based SRHR advocacy rally (the first  ever green wave solidarity action on prevention of unsafe abortions, led by Female sex workers with feminist organizations, and other human rights organizations in the civil society fraternity in Africa), to engage communities and stakeholders from different territories-of-power and authoritative positions to spotlight the eminent danger emanating from the continued abandonment of critical SRH issues ruining minoritized women’s reproductive and maternal health such as unsafe abortions, and inadequate access to contraception services in Uganda. For years, reproductive justice is one of the most contested areas of focus in human rights that has remained cloaked in the society’s earlier unconcealed yokes of moral edges and the disruptive shade of the structural marginalization of sexual reproductive health and rights.  But if we don’t talk about it and merit our attenti on towards its invisible slow-motion disaster, then who can expose its ever intensifying danger to reproductive and maternal health of women, especially those at the society’s periphery like the female sex workers? Your guess for this unionized corporate responsibility is as good as ours!

#BurstTheStigmaOnReproductiveRights    #AWACHerLegacyInitiative

Click on this link to read the full newsletter

AWAC-UGANDA OCTOBER-DECEMBER NEWSLETTER -ISSUE 4

Merry Christmas to you!

As we celebrate Christ—the reason for this season, we strongly believe that, truly, Christmas is a dignified and a special lyrical holiday—one that is experienced through the stories told from days past and hopes strung together for the future. We have heard about it through the tales of the bible verses, Christmas carols, and the written word from different theologians. As we get filled with the spirit of Santa to celebrate the beauty of this season, we would like to share with you this quarter’s (October—December 2022) news and milestones reached throughout this implementation period!

What Transpired?

  • The historical visit to our Kampala Drop in Centre by Her Excellency Natalie E. Brown —US Ambassador to Uganda
  • National Annual Sex Workers’ Dialogue (NASWD5), and the Launch of the Her Legacy Initiative with a CHLEG concept that will transition into the first ever Female Sex Work Led Bank in Uganda.
  • AWAC’s Contribution in Ebola Response
  • The start of our Subgrantee programme
  • The Review of AWAC strategic plan.
  • National HIV/AIDS Symposium and exhibition

Click on this link to read the full newsletter

Press Statement; Addressing the Gender-Based Violence Against the Female Sex Workers And Those in Humanitarian Settings

 Kikagatti – Boarder in Isingiro District                     

“UNiTE” Activism To End Violence Against Women and Girls
We are here today as a collective of the grassroots female sex workers including migrant sex workers, to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism to address gender-based violence that has been a serious public health threat and human rights violation –which disproportionately affects minoritized women and girls, essentially the female Sex workers. As a marginalized group of women in society, we face various forms of violence such as sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, and economic violence from clients, society, religious and cultural leaders that label us misfits. This is compounded by the systemic exclusion that brackets out sex work from legitimate economic activities. Such exclusion denies us the equal rights to work legally just like other professions –which is ultimately an economic violence.  Through this stakeholder awareness session on GBV, we recognize that the 16 Days of Activism commemoration has presented an opportunity to spotlight GBV issues affecting female sex workers in their different categories including refugee female sex workers, and increase the level of public awareness, support and understand that human rights are non-alienable, everyone deserves equal rights, including but not limited to health and economic rights.

It’s disheartening to note that, FSWs including the migrant sex workers experience substantially higher rates of sexual assault (of 2-5 times) from, commercial clients and police than found among general female populations migrant sex workers face a multiplicity of vulnerabilities deeply entrenched in social stigma, patriarchy, punitive laws and policies and the discrimination from their host communities due to weak social cohesion.

GBV is tremendously linked to high rates of morbidity and mortality including gynaecological problems, mental health problems, substance dependence, suicide, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. This presents a serious concern and needs for increased attention from stakeholders through a whole-of-society approach to combat GBV in all its forms against minoritized women.

We, therefore, recommend for:

  • Investigation and documentation of discriminations and systemic exclusion premised on sex work status and other violations against migrant sex workers
  • Decriminalisation of sex work.
  • Conclusive investigations on complaints of gender-based violence against migrant sex workers with fairness.
  • Police to refrain from using the law to violate rights of sex workers.
  • Introduce a waiver to the prosecution of a sex worker who comes out report a case of violence, abuse or exploitation in the sex industry.

We further call upon the public to publicly condemn all forms of gender-based violence and advocate for equal rights for minoritized women.

Cc Dr. Kinyatta James chairperson LCI

Cc Dr. Edison Tumusherure District Health Officer

Cc Afande Mujjuni OC Station Kikagatti – Boarder

 

AWAC-UGANDA OCTOBER 2022, NEWSLETTER -ISSUE 2

The Newsletter highlights the achievements, and stories which demonstrate our work in serving our grassroot members –including those with compounding and intersecting vulnerabilities. Considering our work, there is no doubt that our constituent members have found it impactful to them. During the month, we were able to hold one stakeholders’ consultative meeting, and an intersectional community scorecard on access to SRH services for minoritized young women surviving on sex work in Rhino Base camp —one of the humanitarian settings in Terego district, 31 of our community members in some of the hotspots in Kampala injecting drugs were served with Needle Syringe and Exchange Programming (NSP) services, served 101 recipients of ART services; served 798 recipients of PrEP related services (both linkage for PrEP initiation, and PrEP refills); 1001 served with HIV testing services, 16 assisted with SGBV related services, 45 provided with Post Abortion Care services, reached 68 community members with family planning services; screened 566 for STIs and did appropriate referrals; and 66 received Mental Health related services –including counseling and referrals.

Its also worthwhile to recognize some of the commitments that have been fulfilled by duty bearers after our advocacy stakeholder engagements; for instance –Malaba Health Centre IV in Tororo District has Marked the points of care at its facility. This is to ease access to SRH services for the AGYW Rights holders while at the facility. Gladly to report that, this was the first step to attract more rights holders in their intersectionalities to access the SRH services responsive to their unique needs. This happened after the duty bearers made commitments through pledges (during our we lead programme stakeholder engagements) to address the challenges (such as; limited access to youth friendly services) in access to SRH services for AGYW in the district.

Click on this link to read the full newsletter https://mailchi.mp/e2bf98f39a3f/awacugandaoctobernewsletter

AWAC-Uganda, July-September, 2022 Newsletter

Almost winding down the year! Welcome to our third quarterly newsletter for the period of July-Sept 2022. We have successfully managed a range of service delivery and advocacy interventions that have impacted more than 1700 of our community members including, Female sex workers living with disability, those injecting drugs, and women engaging in transaction sex in humanitarian settings. This newsletter presents what we have worked on, what we have achieved through our service delivery programmes (in SRHR, HIV response and community empowerment), and advocacy at grassroot, and connecting the grassroot realities to the national and global conversations and policies. This was more preeminent during our recent stakeholder SRHR media café, and the discussion on the impact of RoeVs.Wade 1973 ruling overturn in USA on access to comprehensive SRHR services among the marginalized grassroot women in Uganda.

Read through the link below, https://mailchi.mp/84b42ce55bd6/awacugandanewsletter

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS – FINANCE OFFICER, KAMPALA REGION

The Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC) is an umbrella network for grassroot female sex worker led-organizations in Uganda. Established in 2015 by the champions of the female sex worker movement to give visibility; promote meaningful involvement and collective organizing of rural & peri-urban Female Sex Workers (FSWs), especially those operating in hard to reach areas such as slum areas, landing sites, transit routes and boarder areas to strengthen a unified, vibrant, national, and sustainable FSW led movement Uganda.
Job Summary: To be responsible for finance and ensure respect and proper implementation of rules, regulations and procedures at Kampala.

Key Duties and Responsibilities:
Accountancy:
• Responsible for bank book accountancy
• Ensure to use Quick books accounting software in finance department
• Provide support in financial record keeping
• Maintain good relation with external (bank, tax office, legal office, audit firm….)
Monthly invoices (quality checking):
• Ensure all supporting documents (PR, LPO, invoice, delivery/ note, etc.…) are attach with invoice;
• Ensure proper financial code are presents on the payment authorization form
• Check all information (date, name of the supplier, unit cost, total cost, total amount, paid amount in word, etc….) are available on the invoice.
Pre-audit:
• Ensure good description write in accountancy system Quick books
• Check correct accounting code and budget line are captured in each invoice
• Pre-audit financial document of each project at the end of the project
• Take lead of internal and external audit
Reporting Responsibilities
• Follow up Tax, NSSF deposit
• Monthly Accountabilities
• Pre-audit for all grants
• Support in preparation of Financial reports
• Support in drafting of Proposal budgets

Qualifications, Skills and Experience:
• The ideal applicant must hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, BCOM or a related discipline
• At least two years of previous experience in an NGO, preferably in a similar role.
• Substantial knowledge of Quickbooks accounting software
• Knowledge of financial procedures expected.
• Excellent management skills (implementation of donor rules in finance department).
• Ability to train and follow up teams.
• Autonomous and able to take initiative.
• Able to set own deadlines and meet them.
• Fluent English;
• Professional computer skills, including MS Word, Excel, internet, and email.

How to Apply:
All suitably qualified candidates should apply through the email recruitment@awacold.itedgeafrica.com and copy in finance@awacold.itedgeafrica.com. The subject line should be “Application for Finance officer post”.

Only qualified candidates will be contacted.

AWAC Sex Worker Stories on Abortion

It is June 2022, and sex work and abortion are still illegal in Uganda. The Penal Code Act streamlines stiff penalties for indulging in sex work and procuring or performing an abortion. It is often said that the mark of a good law is that it ought to be progressive. Can a section of the law moored in ancient constructions of morality be said to be progressive? Sex work continues to be a risky business in Uganda. Sex workers have to contend with constant exposure to mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their clients and law enforcement officers. Safe Abortions are inaccessible to the more significant majority of sex workers. On 8th June 2022, AWAC, in partnership with ARASA, hosted sex workers and medical practitioners to pick their thoughts on how post-abortion care can be brought closer and made more accessible and affordable. The participants hailed from different parts of the country; Sheema, Kyotera, Masaka, Wakiso, Busia.
We interviewed four sex workers, and these are their stories.

Story from Kampala:

When young and free, you do not imagine life capable of unpredictability. I would not have believed anyone if they had predicted that my desire for fun would lead me into sex work, substance abuse, and addiction. Growing up, my father was present in my life. I was raised in a proper Muslim family. My six siblings and I didn’t lack. My parents saw to it that our needs were catered for. I started getting drawn away from the path of religion in secondary school. I was part of a group that I knew was bad for me. I should have sat for my exams but didn’t because of lousy peer influence. I didn’t sit for my UCE exams because I didn’t want to. I knew it was vital that I sat, but I didn’t. All fees had been duly paid, but did I care. My family forgave me and enrolled me on a catering course after my botched secondary education. I started with innocent stuff, alcohol, cigarettes, and weed, before discovering crack cocaine and heroin. My arms and veins are littered with needle marks. I now opt for hidden places. I inject the stuff into my legs so people do not stare. A few months ago, one of the veins in my left arm got infected and took forever to heal. I don’t want it to happen again. I am always on the move trying to find a place to belong. Sometimes these places are people or things. When I feel lost, the desire to go away from the noise in my head overwhelms me. I smoke or inject heroin into my veins to shut out the noise. Because I have neither a home nor a job, I can only raise money to feed my body and quieten the noise in my head by offering myself to strangers. Last year, one of my clients tricked me. He took me to his home and promised to pay but instead called three of his friends to have some free fun before they proceeded to beat me.  I was not paid. The police accused me of trying to rob the men who had raped me. Fortunately, I didn’t conceive from the counter. I rushed to AWAC for emergency contraception and PREP. My colleagues have been raped and assaulted on the job, not paid and yet conceived. When faced with such a dilemma, you can’t help but terminate. I cannot have another mouth to feed. But again, finding a safe place to terminate is not easy. Public hospitals slam doors in our faces. Doctors at health centres with religious links refuse to perform what they consider ungodly. They say police will come for them because it is illegal to procure and perform abortions in Uganda. But if I can’t afford safe abortions, how will I be able to take care of myself and a baby I did not want in the first place. I have tried to end my addiction. I need serious therapy, which is both expensive and challenging. I miss my parents. I miss home. I am tired of going round and round in circles.

Sarah (Not the real name), 28, Homeless sex worker struggling with substance abuse

 

Story from Wakiso;

Deep Blue Corner is a curious name for a bar. When someone mentions deep blue, you think of a nursery school, clinic, or beach shop. In 2006 I found myself serving at deep blue corner as a waitress. The bar paid me 15,000 UGX. This sum was insufficient to buy me decent food through the period or get me a place to rent. My father was a pilot with Uganda Airlines way before it closed shop. My mother owned a simple retail business. The closure of Uganda Airlines in 2001 left my father, like other employees, without a job. Luckier pilots got absorbed in the army or moved out. My father stayed, and our family struggled. It got so bad that I failed to sit for my senior four exams. I was young and innocent when I got the job at Deep Blue Corner. I learned that men would do anything to take a woman to bed. So I started getting paid by people who had told me they liked me. I was earning nearly ten times from the sex trade than what my job was paying. I only worked because I found my clients in my workplace. One of the revellers made a pass at me. I insulted him when he insisted. This young man chose to wait for me for five hours. At 6 am, he attacked me with a piece of concrete. He was dealing with bigger demons. I was not having safe sex. I constantly had to treat UTIs. Sexual and physical assault by clients defines the work. No one wants to do sex work. We are forced into the vice by poverty. We direly need access to health care services, medication for STIs, and access to safe abortion and post-abortion health care. I have an alternative source of livelihood, which makes engaging in the safe sex trade easier for me. My colleagues whose hands are tied keep getting assaulted, exposed to HIV and raped. I strongly believe that decriminalisation of sex work would directly render society kinder to sex workers.

Juliet (Not the real name), 35

 

Story from Kyotera:

My biggest desire right now is that my children never go through what I have had to go through. It is hard living life like this. The community thinks sex workers are lazy, dishonest people who want to make money the easy way. There is nothing easy about being shunned by the public. Nothing easy about the police denying you justice when they learn you suffered assault, rape or robbery at work. What is easy about clients beating you up and chasing you out in the rain without pay? It is only easy to judge and point fingers at people whose stories you neither know nor understand. I was sixteen when I first got involved in sex work. I had dropped out of school then, and options were few. I had a small job as a waitress that took forever to pay, so I did what I had to do to survive. Every day that I go out to work, danger looms over me. I have been beaten countless times by clients. How do you explain assault marks to your children? How do you respond to innocent questions posed by your children? ‘Mama, what does malaya (prostitute) mean? The closest I have come to losing my life was when a client placed a large knife on the table and asked me to choose between unprotected sex and my life. After forcefully having his way with me without protection, the man strangled me with the hotel bed sheets. He left me as good as dead. I was only saved by the hotel cleaning staff, who heard the commotion and opened the door using a spare key. I was found cold on the floor. I regained consciousness in the hospital. You tell me, what do you do with a situation where you conceive from such an encounter. Do you keep a pregnancy that gives you pain? Do you keep a pregnancy knowing you’ll have to bear the burden of caring for the child alone? But then again, where will you get safe means of ending a pregnancy you do not want to keep? Do you go to the same public hospital that failed to give you emergency contraception?

Benna (Not the real name), 28. Mother of 3, Kasensero

 

Story from Mbarara

I am an AWAC peer mama, a fancy term for an ageing sex worker. Time has made me more understanding and kinder to my girls. I am HIV positive and engage in advocacy, training and generally looking out for my girls. I ensure that the condom dispensers are filled and that the girls have lubricants. I mobilise my girls for routine HIV testing. I am tasked with ensuring that HIV-positive sex workers can access antiretroviral drugs to keep their viral load low. I also ensure that my girls who are in trouble with the law have access to probono lawyers. And I also help younger sex workers find medical assistance like emergency contraception and PEP when they get raped. I lost my husband too soon. I was just 20 years old, and my son was only nine months old when my man died. I was unemployed and sickly. I was in Sheema, and they would sleep with me in exchange for soap, sugar or transport to the hospital to access medication. Would men sleep with me and then offer me basic needs? What was I to do? I had nowhere to go. I later learnt that I was being taken advantage of, so I leant to ask for hard cash. I do not go to the streets anymore. I cannot compete with my girls. I wait for the occasional call to come through and then get paid. I sell second-hand clothes to sustain myself. But my calling is in the service of my girls. Unlike most of my girls who narrate to me bad experiences at the hands of clients, my worst experience was at the hand of a security guard at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. At the height of the pandemic-instigated lockdowns, I was actively engaged in securing and delivering ARVs for the girls who had been forced back to the villages by the economic conditions. I kept track and responded to urgent calls for medical aid from districts around Mbarara. I was, therefore, quite regular at the Mbarara Referral. A particular guard made it his business to assault me each time sexually. ‘You are a prostitute today; give me,’ he said each time he saw me. I endeavoured to ignore him till he decided to assault me physically. He accused me of idling around the hospital and slapped me. The medication I had secured flew from my hands from the impact of the beatings. I have tried to forgive that man, but when pus flows through my ears or sharp pain strikes me in his ear, I get so angry. I tried to get justice, but I was instead threatened. The hospital let me down. I hate Mbarara Referral hospital to this day. After that incident understood the painful stories, my girls narrated.

Shamira (Not the real Name) 32, HIV-positive single mother of two, Mbarara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get in touch with us.

+256 39 2881454

Nabulagala Road, Off Balintuma Rd, Namirembe, Kampala – Uganda

info@awacold.itedgeafrica.com

Newsletter

Get latest news & update

© 2021 – AWAC Uganda. All rights reserved.

Alliance of Women Advocating for Change