06 Apr

Our 2022 Call for Applications will be open 17 June to 24 July!

Our 2022 Call for Applications will be open 17 June through 24 July 2022!

In the coming weeks we will be working to update and finalise our 2022 Applications and Guidelines so that they are available to download and work offline.

Our funding criteria and priorities remain the same, however our procedures have been updated to improve accessibility, security and safety of our applicants.

For security purposes we will only accept applications through our online system.

Question? Check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
You can also take a look at our 2021 FAQ presentation or instruction video.
You can also contact us at: applications@redumbrellafund.org

Looking forward to this year’s applications supporting the Programme Advisory Committee as they make the 2022 grantmaking decisions!

01 Jul

Application Q & A – 8 – 15 July

Application Q&A

Application Q&ARed Umbrella Fund will be available to answer questions about the application process on three dates in July:

English & Russian/РУССКИЙ (live translation/ прямой перевод) 8 July – 15:00 CEST/8 июля – 15:00 CEST Register: http://tiny.cc/RUFQA-EnRu UPDATE: Unfortunately Closed Captioning will not be live, we will work toward a transcript as soon as possible. We hope to do a better job integrating this accommodation in the future.

French/Français 12 July – 15:00 CEST Registre: http://tiny.cc/RUFQA-Fr

Spanish/Español 15 July – 17:00 CEST Registro: http://tiny.cc/RUFQA-Es

Registration closes 2 hours before each session. All sessions will be recorded!

Any additional questions can be submitted to applications@redumbrellafund.org.

21 Jun

Call for Grant Applications is Now OPEN!

Our 2021 Call for Grant Applications is Now OPEN! Sex worker-led organisations and networks from anywhere in the world are eligible.

To improve digital security all applications must be submitted online only

Accepting applications from 22 June to 1 August 2021.

To apply please review our 2021 Applications Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions available at https://www.redumbrellafund.org/grantmaking/apply-grant/

10 May

Programme Advisory Committee Members Recruitment

Red Umbrella Fund is the first-ever global grantmaking collaborative guided by and for sex workers. Red Umbrella Fund is guided by an International Steering Committee (ISC) made up of sex workers and donors. The ISC decides the grantmaking criteria, approves the annual budget and makes other strategic decisions. The Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) advises the ISC about which new grants to make. PAC members read and score the applications and select which applications should be funded by Red Umbrella Fund. PAC members can stay on the PAC for up to 3 years.

The PAC has up to 11 members, always with a large majority (at least 80%) of sex workers. Red Umbrella Fund wants a PAC that is diverse in terms of gender and geography. Red Umbrella Fund is looking for two sex workers or strong allies from somewhere in:
– North America (Canada & United States of America)
– Central Europe and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA)

The minimum requirements necessary to apply to be a PAC Member are:
Language: able to read and discuss funding proposals in English.
Availability: able to commit 5-10 hours each week between 02 August and 15 October 2021 to review applications and to participate in PAC meetings .
Affiliation: be part of and/or endorsed by one sex worker-led group or network.
Internet: regular email and stable internet connection.

What can you gain?
• The PAC is an exciting and meaningful opportunity to contribute to Red Umbrella Fund’s grantmaking to sex worker groups around the world.
• As PAC member you learn more about sex worker activism in different regions.
• Many PAC members find the experience useful for their knowledge about philanthropy and activism.

To apply, please send the self-nomination form filled in in English with a support letter to info@redumbrellafund.org by 10 June 2021.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Please find more information on the self-nomination form.
In case of any question please email to info@redumbrellafund.org

24 Nov

Interview: From ‘social evil’ to policy influencer – building sex worker leadership in Vietnam

Former Red Umbrella Fund volunteer, Nathan Desvignes, backpacked through South-east Asia just before the Covid19 pandemic and interviewed two sex workers’ rights activists of the Vietnam Network of Sex Workers (VNSW), Hien and Van, in Hanoi. Below is his account of the encounter.

Sex work in Vietnam
Sex workers in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam faced many challenges following the opening of the economy of the country in the 1990s.
Social and economic inequalities increased, shaping the sex market according to class belonging1. Sex workers have been driven out of red-light districts to roads in the outskirt of the cities or hidden as enterprises such as barber shops, making the outreach work more difficult. Police raids (resulting in fines) are still frequent and sex work is still generally seen as negative and considered a “social evil” by public authorities.

Despite policing, stigma and the economic inequalities in the country, sex workers succeeded to set up their own organizations. Founded in 2012, the Vietnam Network of Sex Workers (VNSW) actively campaigned against the repression of sex-workers, resulting in the closure of all sex worker detention centers (called “rehabilitation centers”) in 2013. The network currently unites over fifty sex worker-led organizations from all provinces of Vietnam, reaching a large diversity of sex workers in relation to gender identity, sexual orientation and place of work. Recently, VNSW has been actively promoting the expertise of sex-worker groups in social policies among local governments and working on its own sustainability.


How did the Vietnam Network of Sex Workers (VNSW) start?

Hien: The VNSW was created during the Vietnam Civil Society Platform on AIDS (VCSPA), our annual meeting day where all the key populations can meet and talk about global strategies. Every year in Vietnam, every key population gathers in this meeting. In 2012 the sex worker led organizations realised that they need to build up their own network and not let the movement be represented by non-sex worker-led NGOs. This desire for a common union, which would be able to represent the movement at a national and international scale but also to function as a platform for sex-workers to meet, coordinate and exchange about their practices and activism, was the idea that led to the creation of the Vietnam National Network of Sex Workers in 2012.

This desire for a common union, which would be able to represent the movement at a national and international scale but also to function as a platform for sex workers to meet, coordinate and exchange about their practices and activism, is the idea that led to the creation of the Vietnam National Network of Sex Workers in 2012.”

After the creation of the network, what were the first goals and missions of the organization?

Hien: The main goal of the network is to improve the sex workers life. How to improve their legitimate rights, labor rights and human rights. At the time of creation of the network, sex workers were still forced to go to detention centers and faced a lot of stigma and discrimination. Sex workers couldn’t talk and take decisions by themselves and could not even come out publicly as sex workers without risking being jailed. We were still seen as a social evil both by the society and the public authorities.

At the time of creation of the network […] we were still seen as a social evil both by the society and the public authorities”

Partly thanks to the establishment of the VNSW, we are now confident to speak in conferences and in front of the government as sex workers. We also started to work with the police, while in the past we were very scared of the police because we could go to prison. Nowadays we can negotiate with the police and we can have a talk. We can even offer support to the police! Some of our members are engaged in a collaboration with local police to help the re-identification of sex workers2.

In the past we were very scared of the police because we could go to prison. Nowadays we can negotiate with the police and we can have a talk”.

In the past, sex workers faced a lot of violence from clients and pimps and even from the police. We didn’t know how to report because we thought that we deserved such kind of violence. But now, thanks to the knowledge disseminated to sex workers, sex workers can relate to the law, policies and to our rights. That way we know that we can report violence to our local group or to the network, and then they will support the legal procedure to report to the police. We have the right to be protected by the police!

Now, thanks to the knowledge disseminated to sex workers […] we know that we can report violence to our local group or to the network, and then they will support the legal procedure to report to the police.

Can you tell us a bit more about this re-identification of sex workers?

Van: Sex worker groups support the police to get ID papers for sex workers and other key populations. We do a survey among key populations who have no identification because you need an identification in order to have access to health insurance and HIV treatment. That is why we are supporting all key populations to have access to ID papers and an insurance card.

You need an identification in order to have access to health insurance and HIV treatment. That is why we are supporting all key populations to have access to ID papers and an insurance card.”

Hien, you are currently a Steering Committee member of the VNSW. Can you tell us why did you join the VNSW?

Hien: I was a sex worker, a drug user and I am living with HIV. Before 2014 I was working in a drug user-led organization focusing on people living with HIV and their access to treatment. Since then, I started to work for the sex worker community directly. Because in sex worker-led organizations, we also do support the sex workers to access HIV treatment.

Can you tell us more about the Community Leadership Fostering Program of the VNSW?

Hien: The grant from the Red Umbrella fund was essential in financing the training of a younger team of community leader. Because the members of the steering committee are quite old and worked for quite a long time, we need to build up replacement in order to better represent our community. Young community leaders often have little experience and less skills, so we need to help them with knowledge and skills as well as opening their mind. Those skills and knowledge are necessary for them to take over the functions of the Steering Committee in the future. We are therefore confident and serene about the future of the network and in the fact that it will live long.

Because the members of the steering committee are quite old and worked for quite a long time, we need to build up replacement in order to better represent our community.”

How were the participants chosen?

Hien: We first called for applications from the 50 member organisations of VNSW. Then the members of all organizations were meeting through Skype to discuss and choose the eligible participants. The applicants had to be involved in their own communities, endorsed by their community-based organisation (CBO) and be under 25 years old, as our goal was to promote youth leadership within the sex worker movement.

And in practice, how did the program go? Did it fulfill your goals?

Hien: In the evaluation session, the participants declared that the training sessions were all very useful to them. For instance, in the session dedicated to communication they learned how to catch the attention of the listener and how to be confident in speaking out, not only in front of their peers but also in front of a large and diverse public. They even had training on the best way to talk, measuring the tonality and rhythm of their voices. After the training sessions all felt more confident in their own agency. Those skills are essential when you organize meetings and have to develop an internal and external communication.

“After the training sessions, all felt more confident in their own agency”

So how were these skills developed?

Van: We did many training sessions with different themes. The first one was named: «Seven habits to be highly effective people». The second training was about presentation: how to talk coherently and how to read efficiently reports and diverse type of publications. In advocacy we have to talk a lot, but also read a lot! Reading also needs training and exercise in order to be able to choose which information is useful or not! Communication is not only useful for meetings but also for outreach work in the field. An important mission of VNSW is to disseminate knowledge, especially harm reduction knowledge about safe sex or safe use of drugs among the community.

An important mission of VNSW is to disseminate knowledge, especially harm reduction knowledge about safe sex or safe use of drugs among the community.”

How do you see the future of the programme?

Hien: I think it is very important to develop this kind of programmes further. One problem is that our members are working a lot but they do not have a salary, that is a very precarious position. Capacity building is important for both the current members to be confident in letting in the leadership of younger members and for new leaders to be confident taking over these responsibilities. Only one member per local group could participate to the program due to the limitation of resources but it allowed us to keep a link between the Steering Committee members and the base of the organizations. Links between individuals and groups are important to keep a coherent movement in Vietnam.

The capacity building also made us face the decrease in funding. Seeing how less and less money comes to community-based organizations, we have to empower our members so they can keep working independently. Right now, the Vietnamese government is implementing modules to support sex workers in collaboration with local organizations. But in order to be considered as a partner, local sex worker organizations have to prove that they have the capacities to reach out to their communities and they need to write a proposal and send it to the authorities. That is why the capacity building is so important for the empowerment of sex workers in Vietnam at this moment.

Seeing how less and less money comes to community-based organizations, we have to empower our members so they can keep working independently.”

Knowledge is changing every day. Even the way we outreach to sex workers has changed. We have to permanently update our practices and knowledge. We now have adapted and try to integrate ways of outreaching online to sex-workers. In the past we used to outreach the sex workers in person. That is why we have to update our knowledge every day and to repeat the training sessions and remain updating it. The most important for now is that each local organization has the capacities to be considered as a partner for the local authorities.

Now I will share about my own experience. Luckily my CBO is a partner of the local government, under the program about social affairs and vice prevention. This is the program in charge of solving any issue related to sex work in general. My CBO is actually one of the partners of local authorities in Hanoi to pilot the sex work official panel in Hanoi. I have a lot of experience and skills because of working in that field for a very long time. That is why the training sessions are so important: to balance the knowledge and power dynamics between the members and be able to work together. And of course, it is important in order to be a reliable partner for the local government. Not all member organizations of VNSW currently have the capacities to be part of such a project yet.

That is why the training sessions are so important: to balance the knowledge and power dynamics between the members and be able to work together. And of course, it is important in order to be a reliable partner for the local government.”

Why do you think funding sex worker organizations is important?

Van and Hien: Funding is very important for the network and community based organizations in general. Funds are needed to enable capacity building and training programmes. The starting point of our community is very low. Sex workers and key populations in Vietnam may have a low level of education. That is why we need to improve sex workers’ knowledge, skills and capacity to be confident in leading the community.

Funding also allow us to promote harm reduction interventions. Sex workers can then outreach to their friends and their own communities, helping them with how to have safe sex. It helps prevent violence, even how to change work if they want to and sometimes how to get some funding from the government.

Funds also allow us to promote harm reduction interventions. Sex workers can then outreach to their friends and their own communities, helping them with how to have safe sex.”

Funding furthermore enables sex workers to work towards a meaningful engagement in advocacy, allowing sex workers’ voices to be heard. Advocacy is very important, as a representative of the sex work community, the network needs to raise the voices of sex workers in consultations and meeting that concern us directly.

So, what are the priorities in advocacy for the VNSW?

Hien: Advocacy takes a long time. In the past we had a meaningful involvement to close all the detention centers in 2012 and 2013. All the detention centers have closed, and all the sex workers that had been arrested were released. Now sex workers are only fined between 5 to 25 dollars.

In the future we now want to advocate for sex work not to be illegal anymore and not to be considered as negative. That concerns not only the worker but also the buyer and many organizations and individuals around it. This is just like people selling food in the market. They are not recognized as workers, but their occupation is not illegal. Decriminalization, access to the full status of citizens and to human rights, that is what we ultimately fight for.

In the future we now want to advocate for sex work not to be illegal anymore and not to be considered as negative. […] Decriminalization, access to the full status of citizens and to human rights, that is what we ultimately fight for.”

In the future we may train all our member to move to become social enterprises. Because the resources are decreasing and at the moment the CBOs have to adapt and find other income. That is why the idea is now to move to social enterprises, a new way of enabling self-sustainability for the community. That would allow that the profit would directly flow back to our communities – and eventually to the whole society. But we still need more funding in order to launch this social enterprise project.

“Because the resources are decreasing at the moment the CBOs have to adapt and find other resources. That is why the idea is now to move to social enterprises, a new way of enabling self-sustainability for the community.”

We are also focusing on the connection between the local sex worker groups and the local government, now that they have increasingly become partners. That helps to prove that the sex worker led organizations are reliable partners and that sex workers should be protected and not prevented.

Thank you!

Vietnam, Sex Work and Covid19

Missing in this interview is how hard the sex workers in Vietnam have been hit by the Covid19 pandemic in recent months. As described by Red Umbrella Fund grantee partner Strong Ladies in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam:

In the period before the Covid pandemic the sex worker community worked in diverse settings, such as gathering points, hot spots, massage services, and online services. Transgender sex workers mainly worked in hot spots, online, and in some bars. There have been several cases of transgender sex workers being abused by clients when clients discovered they were transgender. For them, sex work is considered the only way to earn an income and save money for surgeries in order to physically match their gender identity.

During the Covid pandemic the work situation got heavily affected for the sex worker community. Most of us have lost customers leading to serious affects on our income. A lot of the sex workers are originally from neighboring provinces and need to keep making enough money in order to pay the rent for their accommodation. Some are lucky to get some kind of reduction on the rent because of the Covid situation. In Ho Chi Minh City, there are many “Rice ATM’s”, but sex workers are afraid to go out and accept these offered goods. Mainly because when they show up all dressed, it is then considered that they are not in need and do not face difficult situations and therefore are not entitled.”

Nathan would like to thank Hien and Van for welcoming him in the locals of VNSW and take their time answering all his questions. He would also like to give his thanks and solidarity to all the sex worker activists in Vietnam which work stands to him as one of the bravest examples of raising for social change. Finally, he’d like to highlight the importance of the facilitating organizations, sex-worker led as the Red Umbrella Fund or allies as the SCDI (the host organisation of the VNSW) in Vietnam.


Resources & further reading:

Facebook page of VNSW: https://www.facebook.com/vnswvietnam/

Membership of VNSW to the Global Network: https://www.nswp.org/members/vietnam-network-sex-workers

Report of the Regional Office for the Western Pacific of the the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (2001): http://www.wpro.who.int/hiv/documents/docs/Sex_Work_in_Asia_July2001.pdf

Joined report of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), The Department for Social Evil Prevention (DSEP) under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) facilitated by the United Nations (2012): https://vietnam.iom.int/sites/default/files/IOM_Files/Projects/Migration_Gender/Final_report_Sex_work_and_Mobility_ENG.pdf

Academic resources:

Kay Hoang, K. (2011). “She’s Not a Low-Class Dirty Girl!”: Sex Work in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40(4), 367–396. doi:10.1177/0891241611403481 

Ngo, A. D., McCurdy, S. A., Ross, M. W., Markham, C., Ratliff, E. A., & Pham, H. T. B. (2007). The lives of female sex workers in Vietnam: Findings from a qualitative study. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 9(6), 555–570. doi:10.1080/13691050701380018 

1 For an extensive study Kay Hoang, K. (2011). “She’s Not a Low-Class Dirty Girl!”: Sex Work in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40(4), 367–396. doi:10.1177/0891241611403481

2 Re-identification in Vietnam is a public program aiming to issue legal identification to all citizens of Vietnam. The lack of legal identification is often a barrier to access to human rights in Vietnam, especially in rural areas.

29 Sep

Master Thesis – Roles of Regional Sex Worker Networks

The 6 Roles of Regional Sex Worker Networks

By Hester Scholma, Graduating Student,
Master Thesis Sociology, Vrije Univeristeit Amsterdam 

Network means together and together makes stronger. We [regional networks] can make the Sex Worker Movement stronger at the country level, at the regional level and move together to get sex workers’ rights”

Almost a third of the Red Umbrella Fund grantmaking budget goes to regional networks of sex workers because they are seen as important within the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement. But why, exactly? The Programme Advisory Committee of the Red Umbrella Fund has asked for further clarification on the importance of regional networks and a funder demonstrated interest to better understand the roles of networks in social movements. All in all, plenty of reasons to start an exploratory research into the work of regional sex worker networks.

Together means stronger

It sounds obvious: together means stronger. We all know that sowing and harvesting a field of wheat by hand is easier when we do it together instead of alone. Building a house goes much faster with many hands and multiple brains adding skills and knowledge on construction, electricity or design. An individual protesting against municipal policy in front of the town hall can make a statement but protesting in a group usually makes this statement stronger. It may feel logical that regional networks contribute to stronger local and national organisations and a stronger movement, the question is how?

Sex Workers’ rights organising

Many sex worker organisations, focused on promoting the human rights of sex workers, formed throughout the 1980s both in countries in the Global North and the Global South. The Sex Workers’ Rights Movement began to internationalise from the 1980s and the now fully globalized movement is one of the most geographically diverse and intersectional social movements in the world. The movement represents the interests of sex workers from many different countries, with varied races, gender identities and sexual orientations. It includes sex worker-led organisations working locally, nationally and internationally1.

The regional networks

The regional networks are groups of sex worker groups across countries in a particular geographic region. These networks connect organisations, and sometimes individual activists, to each other. They work with their members in the region and also work on a global level, sometimes together with other regional networks. The currently known regional sex worker-led networks are: ASWA in Africa; APNSW in Asia and the Pacific; ICRSE, SWAN and TAMPEP in Europe; and RedTraSex, PLAPERTS and CSWC in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, there are a few sub-regional networks and networks that unite sex workers and allies.

The 6 roles

To explore the contribution and relevance of the regional networks, conversations were held with people directly engaged in such regional networks, a representative of NSWP and some funders of sex worker-led organisations. Through these conversations, six regional networks’ key roles came to light: convening power, setting the agenda, platform for sharing and learning, supporting and engaging in advocacy, capacity building and amplifying sex worker voices.

1. Convening power

The regional networks bring people and organisations together from different contexts and backgrounds, physically or online. This can create movement consciousness. Regional networks can also make connections with other international bodies or social movements.

“We had 200 sex workers from about 10 countries. And it was just amazing because we met people from countries we didn’t even [normally] think about. You’re thinking that these are issues we’re facing in our country only, but that was such a powerful moment because sex workers spoke about human rights violations and that was the first time we were like we want decriminalisation. A lot of work had gone to mobilize the countries to bring sex workers to come for this conference. I’m getting goose bumps even as I’m talking about it. It was very, very moving”


2. Setting the agenda

The regional networks set a shared agenda together with members. This generates a clear message of the movements’ ideas and demands for both the movement itself and for outsiders. It is clear that one of the main objectives of the regional sex worker networks is the decriminalisation of sex work. This has not always been the case.

I think this is not something to take for granted. It took a lot and a lot of work to come to this unity. And to come to this unified voice and demand, what’s their message. So it definitely speaks to the movement and its success”

3. Platform for sharing & learning

The regional networks create opportunities for members to share experiences and learn from each other. For example, this platform creates the possibility for new sex worker-led organisations to do an ‘internship’ at more established organisations and the possibility to improve strategies together.

A strategy that was shared by one country – and maybe had a few challenges or a few hiccups – when the next country implements that same strategy, they’re able to see the loopholes and be able to address those challenges and make it a better strategy”

4. Supporting and engaging in advocacy

Regional networks support local and national advocacy and bring advocacy to the regional and global levels. Their advocacy is strengthened by the fact that they represent a big group of people. They have the position to gather information, provide numbers and engage in joint advocacy.

“When there were cases of murders of sex workers in Kenya, all other countries came on board to support Kenya and statements were being issued from other countries condemning this. That would never have happened if we did not have that regional platform”

5. Capacity building

Regional networks support local and national organisations to strengthen their skills, knowledge and organisations and in turn build the capacity of the movement as a whole. Regional networks regularly organise trainings and workshops for their membership. ASWA even established an entire training programme, jointly with the Kenyan national network KESWA and with support from the global network NSWP, called the Sex Worker Academy Africa.

“10 years ago there was no leader at the national level, maybe at the regional level one or two leaders. And now look at the countries. Every country has one or two organisations, there is leadership of sex workers, and they are fighting for their rights”

6. Amplifying sex worker voices

The regional networks represent a diversity of sex workers from the region and give local sex workers a platform to speak, both within the movement as well as outside of the movement on a regional or global level.

“[At a regional meeting] One of the sex workers from Myanmar was talking about violence against sex workers by police. In that meeting there were many representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and he said: oh my god I don’t know anything about this, I had no idea that this was happening in our country, nobody ever told me that this was happening”

Funding regional networks

The regional networks play an important role in making the movement stronger as a whole and in impacting the international and global level that have an influence on local realities. However, regional networks face multiple obstacles and this makes it difficult for them to fully fulfil all the roles named above. One of the biggest challenges regional sex worker networks face is lack of funding. Without flexible and core funding, the regional networks cannot live up to their full potential to strengthen the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement and to keep working on decriminalisation and the protection of human rights of sex workers.

“There is a general interest of funders to support local initiatives because of the immediate impact. But the problem that those sex workers are experiencing do not only link to their individual situation but also to the legal context of their country and the cultural context of the whole region. Networks are able to use the stories of their members and take it to a higher level and make a larger change. If those networks don’t do this regional effort, it creates a huge vacuum because local organisations often are not able to step up to the next level for policy change”

[1] Chi Adanna Mgbako, The Mainstreaming of Sex Workers’ Rights as Human Rights, 43 Harv. J. L. & Gender 92 (2020)
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/faculty_scholarship/1092

This blog post was written by Hester Scholma, a sociology student at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Hester conducted qualitative research in partnership with the Red Umbrella Fund in 2020. If you are interested in this study and want to receive more information or a copy of the thesis, please contact the Red Umbrella Fund at: info@redumbrellafund.org

Illustrations by Hester Scholma

1Chi Adanna Mgbako, The Mainstreaming of Sex Workers’ Rights as Human Rights, 43 Harv. J. L. & Gender 92 (2020)
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/faculty_scholarship/1092

22 Jun

Our 2020 Call for Grant Applications is Now OPEN!

Our 2020 Call for Grant Applications is Now OPEN! Sex worker-led organisations and networks from anywhere in the world are eligible.

To improve digital security all applications must be submitted online only

Accepting applications from 22 June to 1 August 2020.

To apply please review our 2020 Applications Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions available at https://www.redumbrellafund.org/grantmaking/apply-grant/

31 Mar

Sex-workers’ resilience to the COVID crisis: a list of initiatives

Navigate per regions of the world:


[interactive map access]

NSWP, the global network, launched a COVID-19 impact survey on the sex worker community!

They now have published a similar list on response of their members to the crisis.


AMMAR Argentina has established a national collection to establish an emergency fund for sex workers and is sharing their banking information for direct deposits. AMMAR now also accept international donations on this paypal account  

In Brasil the Observatório da Prostituição  is editing a list of national  initiatives taken by sex-workers, the list is dynamic and regulary updated on facebook! Here are the initiatives listed for now, copied from their post (07/04/2020): 

GEMPAC (Group of Women Prostitutes in the State of Pará): GEMPAC registered women in the downtown area of Belem to receive food baskets and is working together with public officials to guarantee that the support promised by the State makes it to sex workers. A virtual channel was also opened up to facilitate communication with sex workers about Covid-19 along with a food drive for sex workers and their family. Soon more information will be available about a campaign to raise money for these efforts.
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/gempacpa/

Aprosmig (Association of Sex Workers in Minas Gerais): Organized a campaign for donations of money, food, cleaning products and personal hygiene for sex workers and the homeless. Working with local officials and hotel owners in the Guaicurus red light district to guarantee sex workers unable to return to their homes have a place to live and food while the hotels are closed.
Campaign: https://bit.ly/346NOE8

Coletivo Clã das Lobas (Wolf Pack Collective): Working in partnership with the Coletivo Rebu for women without any support from the hotels in the Guaicurus red light district and surrounding areas. Organized an online campaign to buy food, cleaning and personal hygiene supplies.
Online Campaign: “Juntas Somos Mais Fortes” (Together we’re stronger): http://vaka.me/948763…

CIPMAC (Center of Information, Mobilization and Prevention for Sex Workers in Campina Grande) : Created a virtual campaign and channel of information about COVID-19 on WhatsApp with information about health, care, work and rights. The organization is also registering women to receive food baskets, cleaning and personal hygiene materials and accepting donations of food and fundraising.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/cipmac.milene.7
Banco do Brasil
Agencia: 1634-9
Conta corrente: 16.205-1

APROS-PB (Sex Worker Associaton of Paraiba): Through negotiations with local public officials, the organization has been able to guarantee food baskets and personal hygiene kits for sex workers in the João Pessoa metropolitan area.
Contact:  +55 83 98872-0955

AMPSAP: (Amapá Association of Women Sex Workers) Through negotiations with local public officials, the organization has registered sex workers to be able to receive food baskets during this period of social isolation.
Tel: +55 96 9912-5653 WhatsApp +55 96 9185-4629

APRORN (Sex Worker Associaton of Rio Grande do Norte): Busy organizing donations and working with local officials to guarantee food baskets for sex workers. A virtual communication network was also created to facilitate communication with sex workers about COVID-19 and provide support during this period of social isolation.
Diana Soares +55 84 98806-5395, +55 84 3033-1651

APPS (Sex Worker Associaton of Pernambucco): Mobilizing through social networks with their members and advocating for support from the Secretariat for Women in the state of Pernambucco.
Vania Rezende +55 81 8345-6766

APROSMA (Maranhão State Sex Workers Association) Almost all of the brothels and bars have been closed in São Luis and APROSMA is working with the Secretariat of Human Rights to guarantee food baskets to sex workers and other needy populations downtown. Soon more information will be available about an online campaign to receive financial donations.
Maria de Jesus Almeida Costa +55 98 8419-0077

Mulheres da Luz (Women of the Light): Organized a campaign for women reached by the NGO in the Luz Park, a prostitution area in downtown São Paulo (closed due to the pandemic), and its surrounding areas. As part of the campaign, the NGO is accepting donations of money and food products (like food baskets) and hygiene (soap, toothpaste, and alcohol in gel).
More information: www.mulheresdaluz.com.br
Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/mulheresdaluz/?ti=as
Instagram: @ongmulheresdaluz


Fundation Margen in Chili has a fund raising initiative in Santiago, they are receiving food and donations in this address : Portugal 623 of 11, Santiago, Chile . Their Instagram @somos.margen.

Red Comunitaria Trans in Colombia has set up a relief found for trans women sex workers in Bogota.

Sindicato de Trabajadorxs Sexuales de Quito has set up a fund on gofundme to support sex workers as well as to outline the effects of governmental responses to COVID-19 on the sex-worker community.

OTRANS Guatemala has called for support and donation in order to support trans sex worker, especially the elderly, in their access to first necessities.

AMETS Mexico is facing the COVID-19 crisis by raising donations (money or food) on Twitter.

Mexico-La Brigada Callejera is seeking donations to support their campaign to demand support and supplies from the government of Mexico.


The sex worker-led group “Sarita Colonia” in Peru is asking for donations in  order to deliver primary necessity goods to sex workers in need.

Miluska Vida y Dignidad from Peru is collecting funds to distribute among those mothers who cannot access the Social Bonus from the State.


In Salvador, Plaperts and Mujeres Liquidambar are calling for donations and organise food distribution.


Shwahili version_Poster_Sensitization_SW_COVID-19_DRCMars2020

The African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA) has issued sheets with safety tips for sex workers in time of COVID-19.

KESWA emergency fund.

KESWA also launched a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on Sex Workers.

Click on the image  to access KESWA’s visuals on COVID-19:

A coalition of sex-workers led group in the Republic Democratic of Congo (HODSASUMANDE and ACODHU-TS) has published an advocacy and sensibilization document available in three languages (French, Swahili and English). They also published a report on the stigmatization of Sex Workers during COVID-19. Eng_Report SW situation COVID-19_Mars2020

solidarity fund has been created in South Africa by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and Sisonke (National Movement of Sex Workers in South Africa). It is especially drafted for allies to support sex-worker directly.




Scarlett Alliance in Australia has worked with a national coalition of sex workers to form this fund for sex workers in all Australian territories. The link includes a tool to submit a request for assistance.

In Bangladesh, HARC has been reporting about the situation of sex workers during COVID-19.

All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) is calling for support in order to provide sex workers with food, house rents, milk for Children, medicine etc.

Please use the below given account for Donation and share this widely. Donors are eligible for exemption under IT Act.

All India Network of Sex Workers
Account No- 6577000100043599
Punjab National Bank
IFSC Code: PUNB0657700
Branch: Kirari, Suleman Nagar, Delhi
Branch Code: 6577
MICR Code: 110024285

Durbar Mahila in India is supporting sex-workers from the red light districts in Kolkata with food and essential commodities. For that purpose, they are asking for financial support from individuals, organisations and public administrations. You can find their banking details here (website) and here (facebook).

The National Network of Sex Workers of India (NNSW India) set up a fund to provide sex workers and their family food kits (equating one month for one person). They also stress the particular invisibility of sex workers in times of COVID-19, neglected by popular opinion and official help from the state.

Help support monthly packages for 500 homes of sex workers and trans people in Karnataka India for April and May 2020Sangama is a non government organization working for the rights of the working class, non English speaking gender and sexual minorities, sex workers and people living with HIV since 1999.

Sangram Sanstha, sex worker group in Sangli, Miraj, Karad, Satara, Ichalkaranji and Kolhapur is ending the first phase of its emergency fund. 689 sex workers were identified as most vulnerable and will receive a food packet. In total, that represents 3445 kilos of rice, 3445 kilos of wheat flour, 1378 kilos of daal, 1378 litres of oil, spices and tea.


SWASH, a sex worker group based in Japan has been very active toward the access to public support for sex wokrers in Japan. They published on their Twitter account a CNN article mentionning their fight.

Project X in Singapore is also offering support to sex workers through live videos on Facebook to respond to sex worker questions & they are handing out vouchers to sex workers in need. They also published a covid postser on how to deal with stress on this facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/theprojectxsg/  Finally  they also set up  a mutual aid action to bring groceries to the community.

Empower Thailand has been very reactive on social networks, reporting the effect of COVID-19 on the community and demanding emergency support from the governement. Here you can find their press release in English.



The European Network, the ICRSE, regularly update a list of emergency funds set up by sex-workers in Europe to face the COVID-19 crisis.


SWAN, the sex worker-led regional network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central,  has drafted an advocacy document with demands of sex-workers to governements to act in reaction of COVID-19. Available in English and Russian.


Red Edition has set up a 24-hour hotline for sex workers in Austria. They primarily focus on support migrant sex workers during this time of social isolation. Please donate via their GoFundMe page.

UTSOPI, the Belgium national sex-worker led organisation, has set up a mutual aid fund. They also organises a weekly Corona TV session, specifically for sex workers, where they have someone talk about a topic of interest for sex workers (in Dutch) : https://www.facebook.com/groups/utsopicoronagazette

ACCEPTESS-T in France is providing financial support for trans* sex workers in their region.

In Lyon, the communautary sex worker association Cabiria has launched a call for donations.

In Toulouse and surrunding, the sex worker association Grisélidis is raising fund for distribution to sex workers.

In France, the Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS) gathered useful information on their website regarding prevention, harm reduction, access to medical treatment and care as well as current actions and hotlines held by community associations in these times of crisis. They started a fundraiser to provide emergency help for sex workers who most need it. Finally, due to a successful media campaign, 18 deputies challenged Marlène Schiapa (from the state’s secretary in charge of equality between Men and Women) to open a state runned emergency fund for sex-workers.

Berufsverband Erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen e.V (BesD), Germany has posted a guide in German and English on their website. Please consider donating through their emergency fund to support their work in Germany and beyond.

Red Umbrella Athens, Positive Voice, and the Athens sex workers have created an emergency fund for supporting food and basic necessities, but also to cover basic living expenses like rent, electricity, etc.


The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, the only front-line sex worker led organisation in Ireland, has established a hardship fund to support local sex workers.

In Italy, a coalition of organisations (including the main sex workers and trans led organisations of Italy) started a national emergency fund.

STAR-The First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans, in Macedonia, called for a solidarity campaign, stressing the effect of COVID-19 and governmental policies on sex-workers and their families. They published a list of donations platform provided by their partners, mainly sex-workers led organisations.

Sex Work Expertise in the Netherlands has provided this link with information about the financial and legal side of the income support for sex workers (self-employed / ZZP’ers, opting-inners and migrants).

Dutch Emergency Fund in the Netherlands has established an emergency fund. Dutch Emergency Fund is focusing on colleagues with immediate needs, that do not have access to services/ compensation that are accessible to independent workers and brothel workers.


PION, Sex Workers Interest Organisation in Norway has unlock some emergency resources to support sex workers in difficulty. You can find their contact to access this resources on their website.

Sex workers in Spain (Coalición Estatal De Trabajadoras Sexuales including AFEMTRAS, Colectivo de Prostitutas de Sevilla, Putas Indignados, Putas Libertarias del Raval, (N)O.M.A.D.A.S, Sección Sindical de Trabajadoras Sexuales de la IAC, Sindicato OTRAS, and Aprosex) have collaborated to establish an emergency fund to help fellow colleagues during this time of crisis. You can help them and donate by following this link.

In Sweden, Fuckförbundet has provided their banking details to support sex workers. Please mark your payment “COVID 19”.

The English Collective of Prostitutes organises a collective action to address sex workers demands directly to MPs. Here is how you can write your MP, demanding for support and not criminalization during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) has launched a hardship fund (13 March to 20 March) to support sex workers in the UK.

Umbrella Lane is providing support for active sex workers in Scotland through an emergency fund. Update:  The fund reached 10,291£!



In Vancouver, PACE opened a sex-worker led fund providing up to 100-200 USD to sex-workers who self-identified with one marginalized community

Butterfly and Maggies, also based in Toronto, have jointly drafted a community guide for Sex Workers on good practices toward COVID-19. Some information are especially Toronto-based, but most information can be useful to any english-speaking sex-worker, client, third party or ally.

Showing Up for Racial Justice – Toronto has assembled some resources in a single document including strategies and funds for collective care.

In Montreal there is a Mtl Rapid Response initiative for precarious sex workers.

COYOTE-RI has collected a list of resources including information about reproductive health, working online under FOSTA/SESTA, and other materials to support sex workers

The Green Light Project is running a fundraiser to support Seattle sex workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Healing Justice Podcast hosted a roundtable on COVID-19 to talk harm reduction and community support.

Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective & Fund is accepting donations through their website and distributes emergency funds for sex workers. They have also compiled a list of mutual aid resources.

Tits and Sass encourages you  to ask for a relief found! It also links to several resources for USA-based sex workers.

Sex Worker Emergency Endowment of Tucson (SWEET) provides micro grants to sex workers in Tucson and Pima County.

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance has also shared a resource for undocumented people. It includes some resources that may be relevant for migrant sex workers in California.

Colorado Entertainer Coalition (CEC) is requesting donations for their community of sex workers.

The  Pink Bloc Project, gives micro-grants of $ 100 for sex workers.

SWOP-Boston is offering micro-grants of $50-100 to sex workers who live and/or work in Massachusetts. We are currently prioritizing funding for sex workers affected by racist, queerphobic, and transphobic violence; those who are unhoused; and those who have disabilities or who are immuno-compromised. However, we encourage all sex workers in need of assistance in the area to apply. We will make decisions on a rolling basis every two weeks based on need as well as the order of applications.

Whose Corner Is It Anyway is a Western Massachusetts mutual aid group for street based/low income/housing insecure/drug user community of sex workers. Their gofundme is updated every 2 weeks with current information about their community’s needs. The most recent post details how they are changing their meetings to meet the needs of their members.

The Network of Sex Workers to Excite Revolution Detroit (ANSWER-Detroit) and Radical Care (RADCare) launched the Detroit Sex Worker Mutual Aid Fund to support sex-workers based in Michigan or hustling in Michigan-centric. 

Las Vegas sex workers, now faced with the shutdown of the entire strip and all hotel/casinos, has started this gofundme.

The Black Sex Worker Collective (BSWC) is a New York City project working to provide support for black sex workers in the area. There are a number of ways to provide support available on their website.

In New York, Colectivo Cultural Trangrediendo is a joint initiative from LGBT Center Intercultural Collective Inc and Lorena Borjas Community Fund for trangender folx experiencing intensified precarious and poverty situations.

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Brooklyn is also running an Emergency COVID Relief crowdfund for New York based sex workers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Portland sex workers have established a PDX Sex Worker Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Sex Workers Outreach Project in Austin Texas (SWOP ATX) has established a emergency reli-wef fund.

The Philly Red Umbrella Alliance officially launched the Philly Area Sex Workers relief Fund. It is a long term initiative to support the community before, during and after pandmics. It targets those who are routinely barred from institutional access. There is 3 ways to support them:

Flyer by: pennysmasher (IG)

No Justice No Pride (NJNP) are looking for support through  Patreon.

18 Mar

Solidarity Message from Red Umbrella Fund Secretariat

Solidarity is not an act of charity, but mutual aid between forces fighting for the same objective. – Samora Machel

In the last few days and weeks and months, the Coronavirus/COVID-19 has spread across the globe and transformed the world. Plans for the year have evaporated and the failures and weaknesses of the various governments and infrastructures have been laid bare.

As ever, the communities of sex workers are situated at the crosshairs, experiencing this new catastrophe in all its multiplicities. Headlines are highlighting the same issues that our grantee-partners and applicants and allies articulate: human rights violations in all its forms including insecure housing, income disparity, food scarcity, unequal access to healthcare and other public services, and violence.

As ever, the communities of sex workers are acting with resiliency and agility. Every hour, our social media platforms are filled with new mutual aid funds, 24-hour hotlines, sex worker guides, and other tools and resources. The sex worker movement is acting in solidarity across contexts in various ways, typical of its strategy historically.

We have a list of emergency funders on our website that may be able to provide some additional funding. We are also reaching out to other funders to create more opportunities for sex worker groups to get emergency support. We hope to have more news on this soon!

In the meantime, we are seeing the sex worker community collaborating and creating ways for all of us to provide mutual aid, which we will share on our website and social media on an ongoing basis. If you know of any that are not included here, please share them with us, on our Facebook page or via info@redumbrellafund.org

In solidarity,

Red Umbrella Fund Secretariat