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SWAN runs regional training days on community-led budget advocacy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

For the grassroots community-led organisations in our network who are fighting hard to deliver services vital to sex-workers health and wellbeing, available finances and the systems by which these become available, which are linked to wider funding bodies and governments, are often inaccessible and not well-understood, and this can severely hinder the life-saving work that they perform. SWAN’s new programme on budget advocacy, funded by the Robert Carr Fund, aims to illuminate these processes for our members so that they may begin to have more of a voice in the funding processes which so strongly influence their day-to-day activism. 

Between the 14th and 18th of November, SWAN staff came together with member representatives from Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, for a training on community-led budget advocacy. Attendants came together in order to deepen their understanding of the budget processes which lie behind the funding that eventually pays for social and medical services for sex workers in the EECA region. The eventual goal, through exploring stakeholder cooperation, is to empower our community-led civil society organisations with knowledge so they may attempt to influence the distribution of these local and national funds.

During the training, our participants reviewed the key concepts, processes, and budget advocacy methods in their countries, identifying which budgets (national and local) currently have funding available for the provision of social and medical assistance to sex workers. They were then able to create some realistic budget advocacy goals for their organisations, map possible allies, and establish what kind of technical support they may need from their regional organisations and partners.

This training was delivered by Hanna Dovbah, the Executive Director of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, in the framework of a regional program currently run by Eurasian Regional Consortium: “Moving Together Towards Quality and Equality: Improved Sustainable Services for ISPs in EECA”. This program will be implemented throughout 2022- 2024 by five regional networks: Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), Eurasian Coalition for Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM), Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA), Eurasian Union of Adolescents and Youth “Teenergizer” (Teenergizer) and Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network in Central, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN). Together, these partners are able to have far stronger organisational and joint advocacy capacities, as well as a greater impact when aiming to sustain and expand funding. We hope with this collaboration we can ensure access to high-quality, evidence-based, non-discriminatory and gender-oriented HIV and other SRHR services to our key communities for many years to come. 

Many thanks to all the SWAN staff and attendees who traveled so we could be together in person! It was wonderful to meet you all and to see our community together again – we hope this training will empower you in your budget advocacy going forward and can’t wait to see what you can accomplish!

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