Ntokozo Yingwana

Gender activist

Ntokozo Yingwana (31) is a gender, sexuality and sex workers’ rights activist. As a feminist has dedicated her life and work to fighting gender and sexuality biases. She consults for the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), the African Sex Worker Alliance (Aswa), and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP). In 2015, she was invited by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) to speak about decriminalisation at the House of Commons (England’s parliament)

“When all’s said and done,” she says, “the most meaningful impact for me is having sex worker rights’ activists that I have helped train and mentor speak for themselves either in the media, conferences or Parliament.”

Yingwana is currently a PhD candidate and a communication and research uptake officer at the African Centre for Migration & Society at Wits. She cites African feminist and scholar-activist Sylvia Tamale as one of her biggest inspirations. “I admire how her academic work is informed by her activism, and in turn how her activism is guided by her academic work. She has written extensively on African sexualities and used that scholarship to advocate for LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) and sex workers’ rights in Uganda.” She remains resolute in campaigning for the end of the criminalisation of sex workers in Africa. “Criminalisation not only robs sex workers of their bodily integrity, but it also renders them vulnerable to all sorts of abuses and even murder. And until sex workers are free from violence we cannot truly claim our freedom as a country. Decriminalisation is the only legal model proven to protect sex workers’ rights.”
Her message for young people? “Take up the difficult fights, even if they might be considered taboo and render you unpopular.”

— Aaisha Dadi Patel

Website: ntokozoyingwana.wordpress.com