Sex worker with outreach workers, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
policy and advocacy help form engaged, inclusive societies

A ‘movement in high heels’ strengthened by largest ever grant


‘Injustice inspires me to keep working every day,’ says Elena Reynaga, secretary general of REDTRASEX, the Latin American and the Caribbean network of sex workers, which is present in 15 countries in the region.

Elena Reynaga, Secretary General of REDTRASEX © Alliance

Elena Reynaga, Secretary General of REDTRASEX

The risk of HIV infection for female sex workers in the region is ten times that of other women, and 30 times more in some countries, such as Mexico.

The same stigma and discrimination that led to this increased risk of HIV has also led to a unified determination among sex worker organisations to demand their human rights. A $12 million Round 10 grant from the Global Fund is helping REDTRASEX to do just that.

It is the largest grant REDTRASEX has received to date and it is no coincidence that the grant was awarded following REDTRASEX’s involvement in 11 Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs)† across Latin America.

Traditionally an underrepresented group, REDTRASEX has been able to reach out to decision-makers as well the women it represents, and prove that sex workers can deliver on this major grant.

Over the next five years the programme will improve sex workers’ rights by strengthening the organisational capacity of national organisations within the network. By giving a voice to sex workers REDTRASEX can start to chart a course where the women it serves can influence policy and defend their rights. The self-titled ‘movement in high heels’ is taking great strides.

“I am proud and moved by this recognition by the Global Fund,” says Elena. “The grant is a tribute to REDTRASEX´s work, and it will allow us to continue working on improving the access to human rights.” Elena is convinced this will result in an increase in access to HIV prevention and health services.

Funding provided by the Alliance since 2005 has helped REDTRASEX to build its capacity, the quality of its work, and its credibility, so it can have a greater influence in the region representing the needs of sex workers.

CCMs are a country-level, multi-stakeholder partnership, central to the Global Fund’s decision making.