Sex Worker Leadership in Grantmaking

Interview with Pontso Mafethe

Interview from November 2012 with Pontso Mafethe, Comic Relief (UK) about her experience serving on the International Steering Committee of the Red Umbrella Fund.



Sex worker-led

“For us, Red Umbrella Fund is very aligned to what we believe is important in the grants that we make. That they reach the target groups in the way that best supports them. The idea that this is a sex workers’ led fund is fundamental to what we believe is important.”

Donor collaboration

“It is interesting in that it not only brings together sex workers and donors, but groups of donors which collectively collaborate and that is a different element and an exciting one.”

What this has taught me…

“It’s very easy when you’re sitting at your desk doing your daily work, that you think you know a lot, that you think you understand a lot and that you think you are able to talk about experiences of those that you fund. What this has taught me, is that actually I think I’m able to play a role in advocating for and influencing my colleagues on issues around sex workers’ rights and fundamentally, the first hand experience of interaction with sex workers on strategic issues has for me increased, improved and elevated my understanding beyond what I thought it could.”

To other grant makers I would say…

“We talk about ‘user led’, ‘self-determination’, and ‘wanting to make a difference’. The way the RUF [Red Umbrella Fund] was set up, its decision making, identifying priorities: the place where you can put into practice all those things that we say we’re trying to do… This is how we want to do things, and this is how we should be doing things.”

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