Call for Applications

Open Society Public Health Program 2018 call for Challenging Dominant Narratives on Sex Work

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Application Deadline: June 15th 2018

The Open Society Public Health Program calls for letters of intent from organizations, informal groups, and networks in France, Spain, and Sweden to apply for funding to challenge dominant narratives about sex work.

Narratives about sex work shape the way we perceive and treat sex workers, the way we formulate law and policy on sex work, and the way in which sex work is policed. In Europe, narratives about sex workers have shifted significantly over the past decades. In the past, sex workers were typically construed as criminals, moral degenerates, or vectors of disease. Today, however, an increasingly dominant victim discourse shapes narratives about sex work. Overly simplistic characterizations of prostitution as violence against women, and a conflation of consensual sex work and human trafficking have led to equally simplistic, and harmful, laws and policies.

Victim narratives are also prominent in media and popular culture, which further perpetuates marginalization and stigma. Depictions of sex work tend to be sensational and lacking in nuance, and the voices and experiences of sex workers themselves are often absent altogether. At the same time, art and popular culture present opportunities to challenge dominant narratives about sex work by introducing new voices and greater nuance.

Eligibility Criteria

Projects should fulfill all of the following criteria in order to be eligible for funding:

  • The project makes the issue of sex work more salient; it provides a new framing of the issue of sex work, or enables new actors to enter the debate about sex work.
  • Strategic and policy-relevant: While we do not expect narrative change to occur quickly, the proposed project must be designed with the aim of changing public discourse over the long term.
  • Sex worker–centered: Applicants must demonstrate sex worker leadership or partnership on an equal footing in all phases of the project.
  • The project must be implemented in one of the following countries: France, Spain, Sweden.

Interested applicants should upload their letters of intent by June 15, 2018, through the Open Society Foundations Grant Portal. Applicants can apply for a maximum of $40,000 for a period of no more than 24 months. Letters of intent should be no longer than two pages, and include a budget with primary line items as well as proposed start and end dates.

Successful applicants will be contacted by July 1, 2018, and will have until July 15, 2018, to submit full proposals for consideration.

Questions about the submission process may be directed to

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Open Society Public Health Program 2018 

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