SMS believes that Women in sex work (WSW) should always have the option of making "informed choices" She should be in a position to decide what is beneficial to her. All advocacy efforts of SMS are within the constitutional purview. At the same time, we believe in soft advocacy, building perspectives, non violence and most importantly working within the legal framework. Hence, our advocacy efforts which range from local advocacy at the field level to macro policy level change are to ensure empowerment and dignified living for sex workers.
Some of the advocacy efforts by Swathi Mahila Sangha are:
Through its campaigns SMS has:
Promotion of social protection schemes
It is important to reduce the vulnerability of women in sex work with the objective of enhancing their quality of life. Through promotion of social protection schemes WSW would get personalized support and information on accessing government and other welfare schemes. This includes obtaining necessary documentation, submitting applications and following up with relevant officials. Through this programme, women have been able to get widow pensions, ration cards, voter IDs, income and caste certificates, admission to residential schools for their children, etc.
The table below gives the list of welfare schemes the social protection programmes has made accessible for the FSWs and the number of women who have got access each of these schemes:
|Scheme||No. of People|
|Ration Card||> 100|
|Aadhar Card||> 350|
|Widow Pension||> 15|
|Udhyogini Scheme||> 5|
|Voter ID||> 175|
|Scheme||No. of People|
|Janashree Bhima Yojane||> 1500|
|Chief Minister Fund||1|
|Micro loan (KMDC)||1|
|Old Age Pension||4|
|Pan Card||> 10|
|Skill building Training||> 30|
|Ration Card||> 114|
Education for SW’s Children:
Sex workers always dream of good education for their children and would like them to grow up in good values. This is one of the main reasons for them continuing in the profession. The family conditions are also never supportive to achieve these aspirations. To support these women and their aspirations SMS has built connections with schools and hostels in Bangalore. Most of the women have sent their children to residential schools where they good education and live in a safe environment.
Alternative and diversified livelihood:
Swathi Mahila Sangha believes in reducing vulnerability and improving quality of life of WSW. This is not possible if the women are not aware of their health needs, contraception and the like. The effort should begin at trying to improve their socio economic status. Even though they earn more through sex work, Swathi Mahila Sangha believes in exposing them to alternative and diversified livelihood activities. This will open avenues for them to pursue other means of income generation. The initiative is not to look down upon sex work as a profession; rather, it is to help the women make informed choices.
To provide the same, SMS works with different organizations to provide vocational training to women and their children.
Unnati is a vocational training program that provides 90 days of training to unemployed youth (of 18 years or more) in vocational skills and life-skills that ensures employment at reputed organizations at the end of the training program. At present they provide training in retail sales, field sales, guest care (hotels), guest care (offices), industrial tailoring, Industrial painting, data entry (for BPO), security services and car driving.
After 90 days of full time training, the institution provides placements in different companies based on their course and skills.
Network for Women’s Equity and Equality (NWEE), Swasti and Pooja Gandhi foundation have been working together with Unnati to link interested women to Unnati and follow up till they get a job and complete one year of service.
So far Unnati has trained 2 batches of women. 32-35 women have completed the course.
No more training programmes are conducted under Unnati. The FSWs are directly linked to the employers depending on their skill sets. Unnati aims at creating awareness among community members of the available employment opportunities. There is also a social protection help desk that does counselling, taking in application forms, creating profiles and sharing them with potential employers and facilitates interviews. The women and family members have been linked to employers till date (mainly family members).