Female sex workers use power over their day-to-day lives to meet the condition of a conditional cash transfer intervention to incentivize safe sex

Article

Focus Areas: Economic Empowerment Health & Wellness

Female Sex Workers are a core population in the HIV epidemic, and interventions such as conditional cash transfers (CCTs), effective in other health domains, are a promising new approach to reduce the spread of HIV. Here we investigate how a population of Tanzanian female sex workers, though constrained in many ways, experience and use their power in the context of a CCT intervention that incentivizes safe sex. We analyzed 20 qualitative in-depth interviews with female sex workers enrolled in a randomized-controlled CCT program, the RESPECT II pilot, and found that while such women have limited choices, they do have substantial power over their work logistics that they leveraged to meet the conditions of the CCT and receive the cash award. It was through these decisions over work logistics, such as reducing the number of workdays and clients, that the CCT intervention had its greatest impact on modifying female sex workers’ behavior.

Cooper, J. E., W. H. Dow, D. de Walque, A. C. Keller, S. I. McCoy, L. C. H. Fernald, M. P. Balampama, A. Kalolella, L. J. Packel, W. M. Wechsberg and E. J. Ozer (2017). "Female sex workers use power over their day-to-day lives to meet the condition of a conditional cash transfer intervention to incentivize safe sex." Soc Sci Med 181: 148-157.

Experts

Wendee Wechsberg

“We must listen to the communities, the local people, to understand culturally what is going to fit and what is going to be the language of the research, and not just say we know what to do here.”