Women, Sex Workers And Feminists. Actions For Strengthening The Integration Of Organized Women Sex Workers Into The Women’s Movement Of Argentina
2009 AWID Seed Grant Winner: Jorgelina Sosa & Elena Reynaga, The Association of Women Prostitutes of Argentina (AMMAR), member of the Labour Union of Argentina / Latin American and Caribbean Network of Sex Workers (RedTraSex), Argentina
Final Project Report.
In Argentina, organized women sex workers and feminist organizations have had a conflictual relationship. This project aimed to contribute to the power of the women's movement in Argentina by seeking convergence and mutual understanding between organized women sex workers and feminists that would help overcome fragmentation within the movement. Participation of AMMAR members at AWID’s 2008 Forum triggered greater clarity of their own training needs to enhance their ability to facilitate dialogue and integrate into the women’s movement in Argentina.
According to AMMAR, though as an organization it has been continuously increasing its participation in discussion spaces within the women’s movement in Argentina, in many occasions, far from enhancing the work of its members, these “women’s spaces” have been hostile due to the stigma and discrimination associated with sex work. An abolitionist viewpoint prevails towards sex work in general, and does not leave any margin that recognizes the basic principles upon which AMMAR members organize and identify as sex workers, “protagonists of our own decisions and not simply as victims of sexual exploitation.”
- Adopt a common stance and contribute to a mutual understanding between the feminist movement and organized women sex workers from Argentina in order to overcome the fragmentation existing within women's movements.
- Build the capacity of women sex workers of AMMAR to participate in the women’s movement.
- Raise the awareness of feminist sectors of Argentina on the reality of women sex workers in order to overcome the discrimination they face within the women’s movement.
- Develop a common strategy with other women’s organizations vis-à-vis the XXIV National Women’s Meeting, to take place in October 2009, in the province of Tucuman.
Participants included 16 sex workers, members of AMMAR’s chapters in Buenos Aires and La Plata, who participated in the various workshops and meetings. Indirect participants were members of feminist and women’s rights organizations.
Project Activities and Outputs
AMMAR conducted three thematic workshops with sex workers from La Plata and Buenos Aires,Argentina on issues of 1) Women’s movement, 2) Differences between sex slave trade and sex work and 3) Women’s rights. The goal of these workshops was to share knowledge and experience of these themes among all participants and to determine the level of coordination with the women’s and feminist organizations that they would be meeting in the next set of workshops.
For the second round of workshops, AMMAR convened women’s and feminist organizations,with enthusiastic responses coming from the Gender Secretariat of the Argentinean Workers Union (Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina),Gender area of the Movimiento Territorialde Liberación, the Movement of Squatters and Tenant Rights, and the feminist pro-choice collective Enredadaspor el Derecho a Decidir. The thematic components remained the same as in the previous workshops.
Finally, AMMAR held a larger meeting with the sex workers who participated in the training sessions and the organizations that had been part of the workshopsto draft strategies in preparation for the XXIV Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres(24th National Women’s Meeting). They designed a mutual agenda among threefeminist organizations and AMMAR to ensure that sex workers could have ameaningful participation in the Encuentro that was held in October 2009.
AMMAR also participated in several unforeseen workshops, debates and initiatives organized by other women’s and feminist organizations, which is a direct result of AMMAR’s closer integration and dialogue within the framework of this project.
Implementation of this project represents an important step forward for AMMAR’s members in terms of strengthening their political formation, strengthening their empowerment as women, and providing anew level of potential alliances within the women’s movement. The initial objectives of the project were surpassed not only by the number of sex workers who participated in the training workshops, but above all by injecting a dynamic discussion within AMMAR on the importance of deepening their participation within the women’s movement. In many cases this participation was not pursued due to the strong rejection expressed towards organizations of sex workers by “abolitionist” sectors within the women’s movement in Argentina.
As a result of the meetings and workshops,there is increased awareness among women’s and feminist organizations and individuals about the importance of fully integrating sex workers within the women’s movement at the national level.
“It has become crucial for AMMAR as an organization to see these joint spaces as a means of strengthening the power of the women’s movement. Working together with various organizations in the National Women’s Meeting, enabled all participants to jointly analyze how to enhance strategies going forward.”