THE BLOG

How I'm Helping Sex Workers Receive Education in a Safe, Judgement-Free Environment

08/03/2016 15:44 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 10:12 GMT

After university I worked as a secondary school teacher for four years.

However I have always had an overwhelming desire to assist women, particularly those who are vulnerable and disempowered.

In Barbados prostitution is illegal and very taboo, but I discovered that women in the sex work community wanted services and programmes that catered specifically to them as they transitioned out of the work.

Three years ago I founded Jabez House, which provides vocational training and entrepreneurial opportunities to female sex workers in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

More than 50 women have gone through the programme and we have worked with another 300 sex workers during our weekly outreach programme. In 2014, I also started a weekly mentorship programme at the juvenile detention facility for girls, to provide them with a support system when they leave.

To me International Women's Day means that I, as a woman, am equal and have value to offer. It is important that women are treated equally in society, because they play a vital role in shaping the history of nations.

In Barbados a large majority of households are headed by a female, so equality is vital.

It is also essential that young women and girls learn to get involved in their communities, because they have so much to offer and share with others.

Playing a role in their community is an avenue to start the 'give back' to society and to make their mark.

Being chosen as a Queen's Young Leaders Award winner means that I will have the opportunity for unique training and learning experiences, which will help me to assist more women in my community.

Shamelle Rice is one of the Queen's Young Leaders Award winners of 2016. She founded Jabez House in Barbados which provides vocational training and entrepreneurial opportunities to female sex workers