Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA) Profile: Meet Faculty Member Felix Otieno “The impact of the academy is a visible increase in community empowerment ”

Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA) Faculty Profiling

What is your name and the name of your organisation? What is your current position?

Name: Felix Otieno

Organization: HOYMAS KENYA

Position: Field officer / Researcher

When and how did your organisation get involved with SWAA?

HOYMAS KENYA –a sex worker-led organization- has been a key player in the SWAA program. The organization has been a learning site for the academy since 2014. Over this time, HOYMAS has empowered and capacity-built sex workers across Africa by designing, implementing, and evaluating programs for sex workers. The organization is a model for other sex worker-led organization across Africa. HOYMAS is currently represented in the academy by 2 faculties with vast experience in sex worker-led programming and advocacy.

When did you attend the Sex Workers Academy Africa (SWAA)? What is the impact of your attendance in advocacy and sex work movement building?

Having attended the SWAA, I have increased my knowledge and skills in program Management and organizational Capacity-building. I have adopted the SWAA Organizational Capacity Scan tool to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of our organization. As a result,promising interventions and strategies have been designed and implemented to meet the needs and demands of sex workers in our program.

How long have you been in the faculty? 

I have served as a faculty at SWAA for a period of 3 years from 2019.

After being involved in SWAA, what are the priority areas that you are working on? Tell us a bit about your activism/work specifically.

I have used the skills and knowledge from the academy to advocate for the inclusion of young sex workers in key population programming in Kenya. I have meaningfully engaged other actors in the development of Implementation Guidelines for Young Key Populations as a result of the capacity enhancement from the SWAA program.

As a faculty member, what were the biggest challenges you have worked on in the past?

We have enlightened SWAA participants on integrating Human Rights-Based Approaches (HRBA) in programming. We have empowered the team on basic principles of HRBA such as participation, accountability, networking and legal aid. As a result, community-led organizations have assimilated these principles in the planning, designing and implementation of programs for sex workers. This has led to an increase in the proportion of sex workers accessing SRHR services.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for SWAA? What do you think should be done to solve the challenge?

The sustainability of the SWAA program is a challenge that should be addressed. The shrinking donor funding has led to inavailability of fund to continue with the academy. The academy localization idea will ensure the sustainability of the program.

How do you want SWAA to look like in the future?

The academy should be localized as per the five regions in Africa i.e., Northern Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, and Western Africa. This will be cost-effective and sustainable. The content of the curriculum needs to be updated to resonate with the current needs and demands of sex workers and sex worker-led organizations.

What is your message for both the sex workers and sex work leaders concerning SWAA?

The impact of the academy is a visible increase in community empowerment. The academy has also increased the capacity of sex workers and sex workers organizations in Africa. Sex workers are now empowered to advocate for policies which promote human rights,social justice and health equity resulting into an enabling environment for sex workers community.

Any more information you would like to add?

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