15/07/2019 - Statements

RedTraSex withdraws from the Global Fund’s Regional Project

Recently as we met to attend the OAS General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, the Board and Assembly members of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Women Sex Workers (RedTraSex) decided to withdraw from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Regional Project realising that given our political mandates there is a lack of enabling conditions to effectively implement the goals set by the Project.

Latin America, July 4 2019

RedTraSex withdraws from the Global Fund’s Regional Project
Recently as we met to attend the OAS General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, the Board and Assembly members of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Women Sex Workers (RedTraSex) decided to withdraw from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Regional Project realising that given our political mandates there is a lack of enabling conditions to effectively implement the goals set by the Project.

A few considerations underlying our decision are the following:

• Once the Technical Review Panel (TRP) decided to approve only the ALEP Consortium proposal, the LAC team and the Grants Allocation Committee of the Global Fund’s Secretariat decided to pre-allocate the full amount available to this proposal for a total of USD 10,500,000 for three years. We were informed that one of the conditions to have this additional pre-allocation of more than USD 4,000,000 above the amount requested was to review the proposal (based on the TRP’s suggestions) and integrate to it the region’s key populations – Men Who Have Sex With Men, Trans Persons, Women Sex Workers. It is worth mentioning that the Global Fund had approved the full request by the PLWHIV´s Consortium for more than USD 5,000,000 whose project has secured the requested amount for its full execution.

• The three key populations’ networks saw the invitation to join as a right and proactive proposal that would allow the allocated funds to remain in the region and also allow for investing the additional resources in developing sustainability for our populations.

• We were grateful for the invitation but also acknowledge the potential conflicts involved in coordinating among so many networks. This is why we requested that our networks joined in the spirit of association and partnership because it did not felt appropriate for the three key populations’ networks not to have decision-making powers and that these powers would reside exclusively with the Consortium. In the Panama Dialogue we understood that the proposal was not “ours” and that a coordinating group with decision-making powers had been created without its existence being reflected in the proposal’s documents.

• As a result of that, what is offered to Women Sex Workers is to be the “workforce” of the proposal serving the Global Fund and the Principal Recipient. This sets strengthened and empowered civil society several steps back undermining RedTraSex’s work and trajectory. It also contradicts the sustainability lines that the Fund encouraged in its transition rationale.

• Communications and process management by the Principal Recipient have been ambiguous and biased in relation to those of us who “own the proposal”. We believe the treatment, tone and some of the communication styles used by Hivos staff are inadequate and not consistent with good practices in the relationship between the Principal Recipient and the organizations they work with. If this approach persists, sustainability of the project will not grow. In our experience as a network that has implemented a successful regional grant for 6 years, we always had a Principal Recipient that was available to the grantee without ever interfering with our technical or political issues.

• We feel that the scenario for a high risk and conflictual implementation is being set, one in which Women Sex Workers will cease to be the protagonists of the proposal along with the other networks. We reiterate to both the Global Fund and the appointed Principal Recipient our guiding principle “Nothing for us without us”. As our network withdraws, there is a possibility that individuals from our population will be hired to implement the project, undermining the unity of our regional movement. We make the representatives of the Global Fund Secretariat and the Portfolio Management responsible for exacerbating these interactions that are already highly conflictual.

• Lastly, and in a scarcely transparent manner, the Global Fund has reserved for itself the right to appoint the entity responsible for the proposal’s strategic monitoring. We have learned that CARLAC is to be appointed as the Coordinating Regional Mechanism. Since its creation, we have said that the lack of representation by key populations is a problem with CARLAC which has been designed by technicians and officers who do not know the reality of our region. We fail to understand how a Mechanism in which key populations lack representation and participation will be able to monitor our activities. CARLAC is a scarcely effective, efficient or sustainable pilot, affected by Conflicts of Interest and lacks the technical capacity to provide the services required by regional programs.

We deeply regret to have come to the point where we have to make the decision to withdraw from the project. Our colleagues from civil society have already been informed and we will continue to work with them towards the unity that is needed to respond to HIV-AIDS in the region. As a Network, we will intensify our efforts to continue mobilizing resources to guarantee the sustainability of the peer-led work with Women Sex Workers, without renouncing our principles and values. As key actors in the regional response, we will monitor the execution of this proposal and pay attention to the requests made by our civil society peers. Knowing the implementation proposal, we believe that after three years of its execution, unfortunately neither the countries nor their organizations in the region will be better prepared to survive the Global Fund’s transition. And this justifies our decision. We hope we are wrong, because that will be the best for the Latin American response to HIV-AIDS and for civil society´s contribution to it.

We are women sex workers who have already proven that we are part of the solution to the AIDS crisis. We are willing to support and join others in the work but we will not allow anybody to impose on us what we should do!