Stepping Up, Stepping Out

Economic empowerment for sex workers

The Stepping Up, Stepping Out project empowers sex workers across the globe. Dutch NGOs Soa Aids Nederland and ICCO work together with local organizations to implement innovative interventions to protect sex workers’ human rights and improve their health and wellbeing.
In cases of human trafficking or sexual exploitation of minors, the projects steps in to end and prevent sexual violence.

Project:            Stepping Up, Stepping Out ('SUSO')
Period:             November 2012 - December 2015
Coordination:    Soa Aids Nederland and ICCO
Funding:           Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Countries:         Bolivia, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Peru, Zimbabwe

Key Issues for Sex Workers Worldwide
Sex work is criminalized and surrounded by stigma and discrimination in most countries around the world. This places sex workers in a marginalized position, and makes them more vulnerable to STIs, HIV and different forms of exploitation.

The SUSO Approach
The SUSO project implements economic empowerment strategies as a means to improve the health and wellbeing of sex workers.

With more opportunities to generate income, sex workers can make more informed choices about their career, financial security for themselves and their dependents, and about their health. When men and women are less dependent on sex work for their income, it is easier to refuse violent clients and requests for unprotected sex.

The SUSO project prevents sexual exploitation of minors and victims of human trafficking by supporting victims, reporting incidents, and raising awareness among the general public.

Main 3 year Project Outcomes

  • Needs assessments in 10 countries to identify sex workers’ critical issues related to economic empowerment
  • At least 4,000 sex workers will have acquired skills and opportunities leading to increased access to income sources
  • At least 20,000 sex workers will benefit from initiatives like drop-in centers, and support groups
  • At least 20,000 sex workers will have access to sex worker friendly health care
  • 50 best practices in economic empowerment have been documented for further dissemination
  • 9 sex worker-led organizations have been supported and are strong advocates for sex worker rights
  • At least 300 victims of sexual violence are rescued from exploitative situations and supported with social and medical care

SUSO Alliance

Soa Aids Nederland is a specialist in STI and HIV-related interventions, with national and international experience in interventions for sex workers and their clients.

ICCO is an interchurch cooperative for development cooperation, and an expert on poverty reduction, economic empowerment and support for victims of sexual exploitation.