In 2007, AMwA made the conscious decision to expand the constituency reached by its flagship African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) to include commercial sex workers and other sexual minorities such as LGBTI. Prior to this, most of the constituencies of the AWLI were young African women drawn from the non-governmental sector, government, multi-lateral agencies and sometimes, private sector.
The decision to expand our constituency to include those who are viewed by many in society as ‘other’, ‘controversial’, ‘immoral’, ‘bad women’…was not a light one on our part. It was based on our internal reflection of what our feminist values really mean if we say that we respect and stand for women’s choices irrespective of what they are, women’s bodily integrity, and we support women in all their diversity, irrespective of age, race, class, and sexual orientation, amongst others.
As a feminist organisation, AMwA saw its role in creating space for dialogue and engagement within the feminist and women’s movement on sexuality and diversity conversations as well as facilitating linkages between the women’s movement and sexual minority groups such as sex workers and the LGBTI groups.
Later on, AMwA broke new ground by being one of the first organisations to organize CBOs working with sex-workers and LGBTI to capacitate them in various ways. AMwA also created the space for them to document their stories. It made them visible. When what came to be known as the Bahati bill was introduced to parliament, AMwA took a stance by supporting resistance initiatives that grew into a Coalition that has continued to advocate for the rights of sexual minorities.