Miriam Edwards, members of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the Red Umbrella Fund, Executive Director and founding member of the Guyana Sex Work Coalition and co-chair of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition, explains why the Red Umbrella Fund is of vital importance to sex workers.
«The Red Umbrella Fund will help sex worker activists and sex workers to actually be able to speak for themselves in terms of having money, having advocacy meetings, and building sex workers’ strengths. So that we can have a voice and we can have a movement.
It will help strengthen us and the work that we are doing.
Despite sex workers’ vulnerability to HIV in the Caribbean, less than one percent of HIV funding goes to work with sex workers. Sex worker-led organisations really do not benefit from this funding because the grants go to organisations that work with sex workers, to programmes set out for sex workers rather than organisations we lead ourselves.
Often we have to dance to the tune of the persons handling the funds, but we don’t get a chance to speak.
With the Red Umbrella Fund, I feel like the work that I’ve been fighting for over the years has started to manifest in a good way. I feel real excited that at last sex workers have a place at decision-making tables and that I am a member of the International Steering Committee. With this fund we are able to make decisions for ourselves and to sit and talk with donors.
I feel the work that I am doing, as an activist, being a sex worker, fighting for sex workers’ rights over the years, I feel good that it’s not going unheard.»