On April 20, a new and innovative global grant-making mechanism for and by sex workers was launched: the Red Umbrella Fund (RUF).
The Red Umbrella Fund aims to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of the sex worker rights movement by catalysing new funding specifically for sex worker-led organisations and national, regional and global networks.
The Fund will provide opportunities and grants for sex worker-led organisations to strengthen their capacities, such as organisational development and management, programme development and implementation, resource mobilisation, advocacy and communication skills, and monitoring and evaluation.
The Red Umbrella Fund will also raise visibility about the work of its grantees in key areas such as the recognition of sex work as work; the decriminalisation of sex work; universal access to health services for sex workers; and the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers.
In addition the Fund will raise awareness within the donor community about issues such as: the conflation of sex work with trafficking; violence against sex workers, particularly state violence; human rights abuses against sex workers, including mandatory testing for sexually transmitted infections and forced rehabilitation; and the stigmatisation of sex workers and their partners and families.
Sex workers are the majority stake holders in the decision making process of the Red Umbrella Fund. An International Steering Committee comprised of sex workers, donors and policy experts will oversee the strategic vision of the Fund. A Global Programmatic Review Panel comprised of sex workers will make grant making decisions based upon transparent review processes. Mama Cash is administratively hosting the Fund.
The Red Umbrella Fund has the specific mission to catalyse and raise new funding for sex-worker-led organisations and networks. The first-year grantmaking budget of the RUF is $700,000. The Red Umbrella Fund will provide start-up funding, multi-year and core funding, support for peer-led capacity-building and exchanges, and emergency grants to sex worker led organisations. Grant amounts will be between $5,000 and $50,000.
The Red Umbrella Fund will provide grants to support four types of activities to sex worker-led organizations and initiatives (including to organizations that are registered or not registered in their country:
1. Start up funds for informal groups to become legal entities;
2. Multi-year, core funding ;
3.Funds to support peer-led capacity building and exchanges;
4.Emergency grants with capacity for immediate response.
Capacity Building and Technical Assistance:
The Red Umbrella Fund will also provide opportunities and grants for sex worker-led organizations to strengthen the capacity of grantee organizations stressing peer-to-peer mentoring in such areas as (but not limited to):
Communications and advocacy:
The structures and individuals participating in the Red Umbrella Fund will formally and publicly contribute to the broader advocacy aims of the collaboration. At a minimum, this means that the Red Umbrella Fund will serve as a platform for a collective voice to:
Through advocacy, communications, and demonstrating evidence-based approaches to advancing the human rights of sex workers, a key function of the Red Umbrella Fund is to attract additional resources to the field of sex worker rights.