Red Umbrella Fund

Mama Cash is proud to host and support the Red Umbrella Fund, the first global fund guided by and for sex workers. 

Launched in 2012, the Red Umbrella Fund aims to uphold and respect the health, rights, and self-determination of sex workers of all genders. It responds to the needs of sex worker rights groups that are fighting against violence, stigma and criminalisation.  

Uniting sex worker activists and social justice funders

The Red Umbrella Fund emerged out of a unique and innovative collaboration between sex worker activists and social justice funders, including Mama Cash. Mama Cash has long funded sex worker rights groups and advocated more and better funding for their work. 

In 2009 we joined the Open Society Foundation in co-organising a meeting of the Donor Collaboration to Advance the Human Rights of Sex Workers. At the meeting, sex worker activists insisted that they should be able to set their own funding priorities: ‘Nothing for us without us’.  In time, the idea for the Red Umbrella Fund, a fund led by and for sex workers, took shape. In 2011 an interim International Steering Committee was created.

“The political struggle against criminalisation, the battle against violence done to us, the work of building organisational structures to link us and support us better. These are long-term efforts that need sustained steady financing"

 

Sex worker organisation survey response in Funding for sex worker rights: Opportunities for foundations to fund more and better

Mama Cash selected as host

After a rigorous selection process, Mama Cash was chosen by the Red Umbrella Fund Steering Committee to host the new fund. It is a relationship of mutual admiration and respect. The Committee saw the value of being hosted by an experienced feminist funder with a history and active commitment to funding self-led sex worker groups. 

For Mama Cash, it is an immense honour to be entrusted to play this special role. 

Alongside of serving as host, Mama Cash regularly collaborates with the Red Umbrella Fund. We have co-hosted events and published joint research like the 2014 report, Funding for sex worker rights: Opportunities for foundations to fund more and better. The report reveals the continued dearth of funding for sex worker rights. 

"The Red Umbrella Fund would not be the success it is today without the courage, dedication and hard work of Mama Cash"

 

Significant growth

The Red Umbrella Fund has grown significantly since its inception. It has made more than one hundred grants to sex worker-led organisations and networks around the world. All grants provide multi-year core support to sex worker-led organisations and networks working at local, national or regional levels. All grantees are selected by an international Programme Advisory Committee that is led by sex workers.