1st Graduation ceremony of the 1st Ever Edition Of The Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA)

The first graduation ceremony of the first ever edition of the Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA) was a truly memorable occasion, a time of joy and congratulations for sex workers graduating, of pride for their organisations, sex workers community and loved ones and of gratitude to their facilitators (Faculty Members). ALESWA has a 6 modules curriculum which includes social protection.The academy wrapped up after 5 days of intense training.

ASWA Founder & HOYMAS Director John Mathenge
Khalda Mohammed from Global Fund/Kenya Red Cross Program
Stella Kawira from Red Umbrella Fund signs guest book
ASWA Partners & Members : Kenya Key Population Consortium, Women in Response to HIV/AIDS and Drug Addiction (WRADA) and EMAC
ASWA Partners and Members: Empowering Marginalised Communities (EMAC) and (WRADA)

ASWA Regional Coordinator: Grace Kamau

Mburu Gitu from Grant Hub
Faculty Members
Master of Ceremony: Faculty Member: Sylvia Okoth

The Academy brought together sex workers’ national teams from across 3 Southern African countries to develop organising skills, learn best practices, stimulate national and grassroots sex work organising, and also strengthen the regional sex work network.

Eighteen sex workers activists from South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe graduated at the ceremony held in the Kenyan Capital-Nairobi on November 15, 2022.

ASWA Member: Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP) Ambassadors representative: Veronicah Were

The graduation was graced by guests from the following organisations;

  1. The Red Umbrella Fund (RUF)
  2. Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)
  3. Health options for young men on AIDS and STIs (HOYMAS)
  4. Kenya Key Population (KP) Consortium
  5. Grant Hub
  6. Partners for Health and Development in Africa (PHDA)
  7. Empowering Marginalised Communities (EMAC)
  8. Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program (BHESP)
  9. Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP)
  10. Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP) Ambassadors
  11. Women in Response to HIV/AIDS and Drug Addiction (WRADA)
  12. Southern Africa Sex Workers Alliance (SASWA)

Meet the 1st ALESWA graduates here:

Zimbabwe Team

Zimbabwe Team

  1. Leeroy Mkhokheli
  2. Brighton Tony Kata
  3. Chipiwa Mugabe
  4. Michelle Mpofu
  5. Singikosi Nkomo
  6. Maison Nyati
Malawi Team making their remarks

Malawi Team

  1. Aniz Mitha
  2. Andrew Kakhongwe
  3. Zinenani Lucy Majawa
  4. Diannah Makanjira
  5. Amina Hassan
  6. Grace Nyasha
South Africa Team
South Africa Team

South Africa

  1. Thoko Mokwena
  2. Cia Wonga
  3. Nana Thabethe
  4. Hamunyan Dumba
  5. Lusia Mapfumo
  6. Nthabiseng Radebe

Zimbabwe Team

Leeroy Mkhokheli: Zimbabwe: ASWA Board Member and also the Coordinator of Southern Africa Sex Workers Alliance (SASWA)

‘’ALESWA for me as a Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa through the Southern Africa Sex Workers Alliance (SASWA) has been a learning curve. It has been a whole week of reflection towards the cemented need to capacitate African sex worker leaders. The sub-regional platform shall pull efforts that support and contributes to the ALESWA Initiative. Also as a member of the ASWA Board, this has been a great reflection to the strides that we pull as a board of directors for the betterment of sex workers lives in the different sub- regions in Africa.’’

Brighton Tony Kata, Zimbabwe: Founder and National Coordinator of Zimbabwe Sex Workers Alliance (ZIMSWA)

“The training at ALESWA will enable sex workers advocate for decriminalization of sex work and also the recognition of sex work by International Labour Organisation and other international bodies.”

Chipiwa Mugabe: Zimbabwe: Executive Director: Space For Marginalised Groups In Diversity In Zimbabwe Trust (SDGZT)

“In ALESWA, I was provided with a platform to understand what is social protection and that it should be provided to all sex workers in their diversity.’’

Maison Nyati (Trans Sex Worker Activist): Zimbabwe

”ALESWA is the very best platform that gave me the courage and confidence to fully express Myself as a transgender woman. The academy had very inclusive sessions that included all diverse sex workers’ issues and not leaving behind transgender sex workers issues. I’m happy to say ALESWA is indeed a platform that addresses the plight of transgender sex workers.”

Singinkosi Pamela Nkomo: Zimbabwe

”I’m a sex worker activist and advocate. ALESWA has been a platform that enabled me to reflect on the different issues that sex workers from my country are facing. The session that stood out the most for me was around the need to advocate for sex workers social protection schemes in our country. Nothing about us without us !!!!”

Michelle Mpofu: Zimbabwe                                               

”ALESWA was a great experience because we learnt that sex workers also have labour rights and the fact that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) realises and recognises sex work as part of informal economies and guarantees sex workers to essential services like health services, housing schemes, basic income securities and many more. Hence, lets advocate for a better tomorrow for we are now better than yesterday.”


Aniz Mitha: Malawi: Executive Director: Community Health Rights Advocacy (CHeRA)

”ALESWA is a fulfillment of ASWA’s strategic goal to build a strong, resilient and visible sex worker led movements in Africa. ALESWA has enhanced my leadership skills and built a strong knowledge on how to advocate for the issues affecting us.”

Zinenani Lucy Majawa: Malawi: Executive Director: Malawi Female Sex Workers Association

ALESWA taught me to go out and advocate for all sex workers to access all their human rights.

Andrew Kakhongwe: Malawi

”Through ALESWA, I leant to advocate for sex workers to have their full rights without encountering punishment or discrimination.”

Amina Hassan: Malawi

”ALESWA was a great experience since we learnt a lot, for example a sex worker can take any job position as long as they are qualified. We also learnt about data collection, data entry and the tools involved in data collection.”

Diannah Makanjira: Malawi

”During ALESWA, I have learnt the importance of advocacy and how the research will help our organisation to grow.”

Grace Nyasha Maonga: Malawi

”ALESWA taught me on understanding social protection, Human rights and also on how to collect data.”

South Africa Team

Hamunyari Dumba: South Africa

”The leadership academy is a milestone and has taught us on understanding human rights, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), the importance of research, advocacy, community consultation and organization capacity building which will help us to go back, teach others and also mentor young leaders.”

Simphiwe Wonga: South Africa                                   

”Through ALESWA, I have understood the importance of research, how the research should be conducted and the tools needed. I also learnt that the words we say account for only a 7% role in communication, the tone of our voice plays a 38% but body language plays a 55% role in communication. Body language is very important in communication.”

Nthabiseng Radebe: South Africa

”I am a proudly energetic SISONKE member. It was very interesting to learn in the Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy that we have diverse sex workers and many sex workers-led organisations worldwide. I also learnt about data collection and the barriers of data collection.”

Lusia’Mapfumo: South Africa

”In ALESWA, I learned social protection, how to do research, data collection -surveys, importance of research consent form, how to conduct advocacy; to take the right information to the right person in the best way to shift their thinking towards sex workers agenda.”

Thoko Mokwena: South Africa

Am a provincial SISONKE peer educator. During Africa Leadership Sex workers Academy, I have learnt about the collection, management of data, the preparation for community led interview and also the importance of reading and signing a consent form.

Nana Thabethe: South Africa

”I’m an active member of SISONKE from Kwazulu Natal. Participating in the ALESWA academy, has been such a privilege and an honour.I received a lot of knowledge and information to conduct a research, interviews, the importance of consent forms, how to create Unique Identifier Code. (UIC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the 4 pillars of decent work agenda.I’m going home fully loaded with information to pass on to my colleagues and my own founded small organization for sex workers.”

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