Sex Work, Health, and Human Rights in Europe

The Open Society Public Health Program invites concept forms from civil society organizations and networks that seek to advance the health and human rights of sex workers in Europe.

Marginalized by stigma and criminalization, sex workers face enormous obstacles to realizing their human rights, and oppression has led to extreme levels of violence, disease, and exploitation. Justice and health systems routinely fail sex workers, and at times compound their marginalization through harmful law enforcement practices and insurmountable barriers to health care. Sex worker organizing is sometimes vilified, further exacerbating problems related to workplace health and safety. The myriad of health challenges sex workers face cannot be addressed squarely within the health system, and the structural—and often political—determinants of sex worker health extend far beyond health care.

This call provides two tracks for funding:

  1. unrestricted organizational support for organizations that primarily work on sex workers’ rights;
  2. project-based support for organizations whose mission extend beyond sex workers’ rights, or for organizations that already receive organizational support from the Open Society Foundations.
Eligibility Criteria

Concept forms are accepted from organizations based in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. We will consider national as well as local initiatives. We also accept forms from organizations with a regional focus in the European Union.

For unrestricted organizational support: The organization must focus primarily on sex workers’ health and human rights, and employ a structural or political analysis of sex workers’ health in its work. It must advance one or more of the five funding priorities.

For project support: The project must be designed to advance one or more of the five funding priorities. It must have clear objectives that are achievable within the term of the project, which cannot extend beyond two years. 

We do not support health service delivery.    

Purpose and Priorities

We will consider concept forms from organizations and projects that advocate for sex workers’ health and human rights. Our five funding priorities extend to initiatives that:

  1. contribute to the development and implementation of law and policy that are conducive to realizing the highest attainable standard of health for sex workers;
  2. contribute to improving practices in policing, immigration control, and antitrafficking efforts, with a view to reduce harms to sex workers;
  3. contribute to improving health outcomes of sex workers, including by improving access and adequacy in health care and reducing violence;
  4. strengthen the organizations and leaders in the sex worker rights movement;
  5. challenge dominant, harmful narratives about sex work and present alternate narratives that incorporate health and human rights perspectives and seek to broaden the base of supportive allies.

Please submit a concept form of no more than three pages through the relevant Open Society Foundations Grant Portal for the organizational support or project support tracks. Concept forms should be completed in English. Please use one of the two forms in the Download Files section.

On the basis of the concept forms we will invite a select number of organizations to submit full applications. All grants will be awarded in 2018.

Questions about the submission process may be directed to [email protected].

Submission deadlines:

Concept forms: December 5, 2017.

Full applications: date to be determined.