Work at Sonke

Sex Workers’ Rights Project Specialist

About Sonke 

Founded in 2006, Sonke is a womxn’s rights organisation that is committed to feminist principles, using a rights-based and gender transformative approach to achieve human rights and gender justice. Our vision is a poverty free world in which womxn, children, men and gender non-conforming individuals enjoy equitable, caring, healthy and happy relationships that contribute to the development of gender just and democratic societies. Sonke strengthens governments, civil society and citizen’s capacity to advance gender justice and womxn’s rights, prevent gender-based violence, and reduce the spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS, and in this way contributing to social justice and the elimination of poverty.

About this position 

Sonke is seeking a PDA Sex Workers’ Rights Project Specialist. The Specialist is responsible for carrying out project activities housed within Sonke’s Policy, Development and Advocacy Unit (PDA) in relation the rights of sex workers. The incumbent will be supervised by the PDA Unit Manager. They will also work closely with and support the PDA staff, using their skills to develop and support Sonke’s policy, advocacy and research work. 

Specific duties include

Advocacy and budget management 

  • Manage Sonke’s national policy advocacy work pertaining to decriminalisation of sex work and the advancement of the rights of sex workers as currently funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa. 
  • Manage the relevant budget and ensure the project is implemented in accordance with activities and commitments made to the donors
  • Advocate for the improved implementation of legislation and policies that protect and promote the rights of sex workers and pursue the reform of legislation that discriminates against them.

Campaign work 

  • With partner organisations, participate in   collaborative campaigns which entails:
  • Monitoring complaints emanating from partner organisations related to human rights abuse on sex workers.
  • Building an evidence base for advocacy on decriminalisation.
  • Participating actively in monthly Asijiki Coalition meetings, as well as the annual AGM, including participating in other relevant coalitions (GBV), building their advocacy footprint and influence.
  • Participate in the ‘Criminal Records Coalition’ to collect data in relation to criminal records negative impact on sex workers and advocating for law reform.

Monitoring and collaboration  

  • Monitor the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for HIV/TB and STI’s with regard to factors that affect the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS on sex workers.
  • Nurture relationships with relevant government departments, SANAC, women’s ministry, parliament and Commission for Gender Equality. 
  • Lobby SAPS, the Department of Community Safety and other law enforcement agencies on constructive and respectful engagements with sex workers and clients.
  • Strengthen partnerships with the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure more respectful relationships between stakeholders within the sex work industry and law enforcement agencies.
  • Manage and build various stakeholders’ engagements and ensure the effective participation of Sonke in these spaces.
  • Provide general support to the PDA unit’s general advocacy and policy work.

Publications and submissions

  • Produce parliamentary and other submissions to government on bills, policies and key issues pertaining to the human rights of sex workers.
  • Challenge stereotypes about sex workers and sex worker clients, and generate positive, contextualised and evidence-based popular news articles and social media posts on sex work, sex workers and sex worker clients.
  • Conduct a series of awareness and education dialogues through community media engagements on sex work related issues.
  • Coordinate research components and generate a system for clear, ethical and safe manner. 

Qualifications and Experience

  • A degree in Social Science, with preference field in sociology or criminology 
  • A Master’s degree with focus on subjects relating to gender, health and human rights is preferred but not essential
  • 3-5 years of experience in a related area.
  • Familiarity with existing South African, regional and international laws and policies related to sex workers’ rights, gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS.
  • Demonstrated experience developing and implementing trainings and workshops for diverse groups
  • Familiarity with the functions and duties of relevant Chapter 9 institutions and other relevant government departments and oversight bodies
  • Familiarity with strategies and programmes aimed at gender-based violence and protection of the rights of marginalised groups
  • Fluency in two South African languages
  • Willingness to engage with media as required

Competencies and Skills required

  • Ability to work collaboratively with Sonke staff at all levels
  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Strong research, writing and analytical skills 
  • Proposal and report writing skills. 
  • Drafting of press releases and social media posts
  • A self-starter with ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and work self sufficiently with some guidance
  • Ability to prepare and give trainings and presentations
  • Willingness to travel

Personal qualities required

  • Confident, assertive communicator who can work comfortably with diverse groups of people, across all levels and various forms of media
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Attention to detail and displays a high level of integrity
  • Able to prioritise work and manage deadlines
  • Innovative and creative, able to see new opportunities 
  • Planning and time management – meets deadlines 
  • Reflective, open to learning and to self-care
  • IT proficiency

To Apply

  • Interested applicants should submit their CV, a motivational letter that details your experience, the contact details of three referees via email to Sonke’s Human Resource Unit at closing date 31 January 2022
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. 
  • For non-South Africans nationals or permanent residents, it is the responsibility of the applicant to attain a work permit from the Department of Home Affairs, and employment will depend on a valid work permit being in place.
  • Sonke is committed to racial and gender transformation and encourages previously disadvantaged individuals to apply. 
  • If you do not hear from us by 28 February 2022, please consider your application unsuccessful. 
  • The organisation reserves the right not to make an appointment.


Cape Town, South Africa


9 month contract (renewable contract dependant on funding)


R37 000 total cost to company per month

Closing Date

31 January 2022