Sex Worker Leadership in Grantmaking

Interview with Anne Gathumbi, member of the International Steering Committee

Anne Gathumbi, Programme Manager at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, Kenya, outlines why she is proud to be part of the Red Umbrella Fund.

Anne Gathumbi
Anne Gathumbi

“The Red Umbrella Fund is the first fund of its kind. It seeks to increase the money available for sex workers’ rights and get more donors interested in this area. My organisation was involved in the preliminary discussions about what possibilities there could be for setting up a fund that would catalyse new funding and that would put more money towards addressing the rights of sex workers. I participated in the initial discussions, went on to serve on the Interim Committee, and now I am on the International Steering Committee.

It is very exciting to see the fund grow from an initial idea to a reality.

When we did a mapping and analysis of what money is available and what money is going towards supporting groups of sex workers to self advocate, it was very minimal. There were very few donors that were putting money into this sort of initiative. That’s what makes the Red Umbrella Fund so important. The large number of funding applications received by the Fund also shows the great interest and the great need for a fund like this.

There’s a huge demand from sex workers’ rights organisations that donors are not meeting.

We must step up and increase the money for these groups to advocate for their rights.

I’m really excited to be part of this process. This is a significant achievement and I will always feel proud to be associated with it. It’s been a good learning experience. Having a fund that has sex workers on its governing structure has educated us.

It has been very humbling, and it has provided the greatest learning I could ever get as a funder.”


This interview is conducted by Mama Cash and was published in Mama Cash’s Annual Report 2012 (page 28)

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