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Activities of the CO “Legalife-Ukraine” at the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (New York)

20 Mar 2019 15:03:35

On March 12, 2019, at the sixty-third session of the United Nations on the Status of Women in New York, the director of the CO “Legalife-Ukraine” Natalia Isayeva met and held talks with Catherine Healy, a famous activist and sex work advocate from New Zealand. Catherine has been fighting for the decriminalization of sex work for 30 years. In 2003, a progressive law was passed in New Zealand that equalized the rights of sex workers with representatives of other professions.

Natalia Isaeva, together with the leaders of organizations of sex workers of other countries, took part in a donor meeting at the office of the Open Society Foundations.

“We discussed our priority – decriminalization of sex work, and asked donors to support not only our projects and programs, but also to support us in the sphere of our organizational development,” Natalia lists.

She drew attention to another Ukrainian peculiarity: because of the Global Fund’s care leaving from Ukraine, there remain less money for HIV prevention in country. As a result, non-governmental organizations begin to compete for funding with organizations of sex workers.

“But HIV is not the main problem of sex workers. Much more they are discriminated by non-observance of labor rights. Meaningful participation of sex workers in projects does not mean just to put us at the table at the event. It is proved that self-organized sex workers can implement programs aimed to our key group more effectively, ” says director of CO “Legalife-Ukraine” Natalia Isaeva.

The Open Society Foundations supports public health programs, advocacy, access to legal services and changes of discriminatory laws around the world.

Thanks to their participation, CO “Legalife-Ukraine” launched a hotline project to protect the rights of and to mobilize sex workers.

The International Foundation “Vidrodzhennya”, a member of the Open Society Foundations, in 2018 did financed a project of advocacy and information campaign to decriminalize sex work in Ukraine.

At the CSW63 session, activists from around the world discussed the social protection systems for sex workers.

It is social protection that makes it possible to use financial, housing and government servants.

In the meantime, sex workers in Ukraine are working in the shadow sphere and can only dream of paid sick leave or child care.