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Setting traditions for sex workers activism in Ukraine – ІІІ All-UKRAINIAN FORUM and ACADEMY 2020

30 Nov 2020 16:11:33
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In the small town of Kozin near Kiev, two traditional and symbolic events for the SW community took place at once – the III All-Ukrainian Forum of Sex Workers and the Academy of Sex Workers of Ukraine 2020.

🗣 What do you think is going to happen on the way out, if you close, for six days, in one room, 50 people with different personalities, interests, worldviews and experiences, and you make them create and learn together? Scandals, intrigues, investigations?

Well, not. Catastrophe in a situation like this is possible, but not in our case, because

WE are a community of charismatic and motivated sex workers!

TOGETHER we are forming our principles, rules and traditions!

Together we set common goals and achieve them

Each of us is unique,

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG!


So, on November 2-6, 2020, we gathered back together again under one roof. To take stock of the last three years of our activity, to make plans for the years to come, to gain new knowledge, to charge energy and to exchange warmth with each other.

In the small town of Kozin near Kiev, two traditional and symbolic events for the SW community took place at once – the III All-Ukrainian Forum of Sex Workers and the Academy of Sex Workers of Ukraine 2020.

Our annual meetings are a unique opportunity to get to know each other, to exchange experiences and share the most intimate. It’s great to see that our team is getting bigger. This time, among 40 sex workers who came from different parts of Ukraine, we met many new faces, representatives of different groups of male and female sex workers, who are ready to work together and to achieve the desired changes.

Our friends, teachers and partners – Ganna Shevchenko, Elena Vertinskaya, Alina Kotenko, Sergey Novikov – you helped us to make these six days as useful and interesting as possible for all participants. The Sex Workers Community Strategic Plan 2021-2023, storytelling, self-management, public speaking, teamwork, self-determination and self-respect – and this is not yet a complete list of topics you helped us to understand. Thank you for your knowledge, mood and faith – for our faith in ourselves and in the common cause!

We would like to thank our partners CO 100% LIFE, Aidsfonds Netherlands, International Renaissance Foundation for their support and opportunity for uniting and developing the community of sex workers in Ukraine!

Further in the article:

FORUM RESULTS

(brief review of the strategic plan for the development of the community)

HOW IT HAPPENED

(photo report of the III All-Ukrainian Forum and Academy of SW 2020)

🗣 “At the Forum, we analyzed the current situation: where we are now, who are our partners, our strengths and weaknesses, risks and opportunities of the community. We have worked out the main strategic directions for the next 3 years. During these 3 days we had the opportunity to figure out how to cope with negative emotions, manage your anger and work on our business cards and present it. All this for the sake of public speaking, so that we were confident in ourselves and in our abilities! Our activists were trained in storytelling and worked out the mechanisms of personal motivation – let’s understand ourselves – establish contact with others – this is the path of growth! All girls received certificates, which inspired each of them to continue their activism. I listened to a lot of positive feedback, – that’s why I’m very happy right now”,

Marina Gridina-Pogorelaya, leader of the community of the SW, head of the Poltava office of СO “Legalife-Ukraine”

There are no unattainable goals if there is a good strategy. “Legalife-Ukraine” activists spent two days summing up the results of the past years and planning community development activities for the next three years.

In reality, planning shouldn’t be always this hard and energy-intensive work. The process can be effective, but also it can be easy, fun, and exciting when you use metaphorical cards as tools.

And Hanna Shevchenko taught us this.

Group work, presentation of planning results

With the help of maps, we have defined our priorities, values, community needs, as well as:

Strengths – team cohesion, sense of purpose and professionalism, unity of thought and goals, developed partnerships and recognition at the international, national and regional levels, hotline for sex workers,(territorial coverage of the regional initiatives in 14 cities, systematic training for activists etc.

Weaknesses – lack of adequate resources, self-stigma and low self-esteem, closeness of the groups, low interest in active actions and public events of community members, low level of confidence in local and central authorities, etc.


Do you know how we see Ukraine, sex work, society and sex workers in it in three years?

Laws on punishing sex workers canceled in Ukraine (decriminalization of sex work)


Sex workers become opinion leaders, control power and influence politics at all levels


Effective programs are in place to protect sex workers from violence and discrimination. Violence is punishable and sex workers are safe


The community of sex workers is developed, stable and influential. In Ukraine, at least three functioning sex worker organizations that receive State funding. Sex workers have access to quality services and training. Community members are bright, active and open


A framework law on sex work developed and adopted (and it includes social package, sex work is recognized as work, society considers it as a work)




Training at the Sex Workers Academy

After two days of planning, a training program began at the Sex Workers Academy, and the participants were divided into two conditional groups – (“veterans” and “newcomers”).

“STRESS: DON’T LOOK FOR AN EASY WAY – LEARN TO ENJOY BY YOUR OWN “, by Sergey Novikov professional inspirer

“STORITELLING”, by Hanna Shevchenko

“SELF MANAGEMENT AND PUBLIC PERFORMANCE”, by Elena Vertinskaya and Alina Kotenko

Leaders of regional initiative groups and heads of branches of CO “Legalife-Ukraine” did continued their training for leaders from Elena Vertinskaya and Alina Kotenko. This is not our first collaboration with Elena and Alina, for the first time our leaders met them this summer during their training at the School of Leaders. However, this time, like last time, three days was not enough to discuss all the issues of concern to us and to pump all the skills the leaders need. Well, well, it means this time definitely will not be the last.

The participants talked about relationships with loved ones, with colleagues, and members of our team, they tried to understand their feelings and reactions to various stimuli, they tried some techniques for working out negative emotions and resentments. The trainers paid special attention to setting goals and motivation, as well as to our apprehension and fears – to fail, to make a mistake, to get a negative assessment from others, etc.

The second group of participants also did not have to get bored, yes, and how can you get bored when Hanna Shevchenko shares her skills of information transfer and broadcasting of the meanings through storytelling.

As it turns out, storytelling isn’t just gripping stories. Via storytelling one can effectively motivate anyone to the action required of him. So that!

And then, from the gentle and experienced hands of Ganna, the participants fell into the whirlpool of the ebullient energy of the professional inspirer Sergei Novikov.

Oh, and this was really hot – sometimes emotions were overflowing. How it couldn’t be, when you suddenly realize that there are no rules in this life, and all the restrictions are just a fiction. And it’s worth realizing that no one owes you anything, and you get freedom, because you – and that’s great! – you also have no debt obligations to anyone.

Well, and for a dessert, perhaps, this is it – a person lives not to work hard, but in order to experience pleasure.

Therefore, answer yourself this question: Where would I be, who would I be with and what would I do if I knew that I would die tomorrow?

Have you answered?

And now – just do this – live like this is your last day and do what you enjoy!

Here are our gala part – presentation of certificates, hugs and final photos.

We want to thank all the participants for the time spent together. We are proud of your accomplishments and we do believe that together we are strong, by uniting we can change laws and law enforcement practices, together we can influence public opinion. In this process of change, the “voice” of each participant is important, and everyone’s opinion will be taken into account.

Until next time, friends!