Mumbai: Sanghamitra, a community-based organization for female sex workers (FSWs) in Mumbai has bagged the prestigious Red Ribbon Award 2008 from a pool of over 560 organizations.
The Red Ribbon Award presented every two years at the International AIDS Conference, is designed to honour outstanding community initiatives that show leadership in reducing the spread and impact of AIDS. It is a joint effort of UNAIDS and the Leadership and Community Programme Committees of the XVII International AIDS Conference.
The action and leadership displayed by the CBO has been recognized in terms of sustainability, impact, innovation, and involvement of people living with HIV. The award has been given to only 25 organizations worldwide and will be announced during the UN General Assembly Special Session for HIV/AIDS on 11June, 2008.
Sanghamitra was formed in 2005, with support from Population Services International (PSI), India to provide to sex workers a fortified platform on which they can raise their voice and express concerns independently and collectively.
This will minimize their exploitation by power structures and increase their overall confidence levels. PSI, through its Mumbai project, directly addresses 6500 female sex workers, their husbands and clients. The project engages in social marketing of male and female condoms, and a range of medical services. Social and economic empowerment of the women is an integral component of the programme.
Located in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s largest red light district, it serves women who are hit hard by the sex trade. Dr Shilpa Merchant, head PSI in Mumbai says, “The main goal of Sanghamitra is to bring about a change within and as well as in society at large. The women hope to alleviate daily oppression and stigmatization and be able to autonomously realize their inherent needs and desires.”