“Right Side” NGO being one of the first and leading trans and sex workers community-based rights defender organization for the protection of transgender people and sex workers in the region deals with the protection of the rights of sex workers, their education, social welfare provision, mental and physical security and protection, it also raises the level of public awareness about trans people and sex workers by reducing stigma and discrimination against them.

From October 1 to 3, 2020, the NGO organized a training on the theme of “Leadership Skills and Active Civic Engagement”, which was attended by the representatives of the sex workers community from Yerevan and different regions of Armenia.

The aim of the training was to promote the development and empowerment of sex workers’ capacities, to improve their level of involvement in socio-cultural and civic life, to ensure their safety both in the family and in society. In addition, the meeting was aimed at promoting the awareness of sex workers and it was educational in nature.

The topics of the meeting were:

  • Stigma and discrimination against sex workers.
  • Sex work and its legal regulations in Armenia.
  • Mental and physical security.
  • HIV / AIDS and STIs.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Civic engagement.
  • Community mobilization.
  • Working with the media.
  • Creating a positive image of sex workers.

On the first day of the meeting, Lilit Martirosyan, President of the “Right Side” Human Rights Defender NGO, made an opening speech. She greeted all the participants, expressed her gratitude to all the participants for their involvement in the meeting, she assured that would be one of their best trainings and everyone would gain new knowledge and have a wonderful time.

Then the participants got acquainted with each other, which was followed by the definition of rules for the whole course of the three-day training.

The first day was dedicated to developing leadership skills and promoting civic engagement. The participants acquired the skills needed to become leaders in their communities. Dividing into groups, they did practical work on leadership and advocacy. The expert spoke about the importance and opportunities for sex workers to be actively involved in civic life, stressed the need to create a positive image, and shared her experience working with the media. The participants suggested using their knowledge among those members of the community who were not present at the training.

On the second day of the training a panel discussion took place: eight sex workers recounted the cases of violence, stigma, and discrimination they had faced as transgender people and sex workers, and how they had been able to protect themselves and survive in difficult life conditions. They discussed the topic of mental and physical security with the trainer, talked about the obstacles they had encountered in the field of healthcare, in their family, on the street, in all aspects of life, as well as they addressed the difficulties, problems and dangers of having sex work in the Republic of Armenia. The sex workers also answered the questions of the trainers, who in response expressed their willingness to stand by the sex workers to protect their rights and freedoms.

During the third day, the participants addressed the legal regulation of sex work in Armenia and their safety. They shared personal stories by talking about the crimes committed against them, describing how they were resisting cases of violence and hate speech in Armenia. All the participants obtained detailed information on self-defense.

Summing up the three days of the training, the President of the “Right Side” Human Rights Defender NGO thanked the participants, the funder of the training, the trainers, the entire “Right Side” NGO staff, and noted that such meetings would be continuous, as they were extremely important for the protection of the rights and freedoms of sex workers. She also mentioned that the meetings were the best platforms for the community to be united, discuss the needs and problems, looking for effective ways to solve them: “We will continue to unite sex workers, to raise their awareness for the sake of their well-being and welfare, and for the protection of their rights.”

At the end of the third day, the participants were given certificates of participation in the training.

The training was held by the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO with the financial support of the Red Umbrella Fund

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