It all began in 2008, with the late Dr. Robert Karr having a vision of self ownership. This was for the empowerment of the marginalized groups in the Caribbean to be empowered to manage their own affairs. The mandate for a Sex work organization was bestowed on the sex work community in Jamaica. Coupled with allies and sex workers from across the country, a meeting was held at the Shade’s Night Club in Ocho Rios. This gave birth to the Sex Work Association of Jamaica (as it was initially known). The organization’s main objective at the time was to address the gaps that existed within the national HIV response of Jamaica. As the years passes and the organization grew, it became imperative for a more comprehensive mandate. In 2011 the organization’s board and membership met with an objective to redefine the organization's Structure and Mandate. With a new mission to advocate for and preserve the fundamental human and workers’ rights of sex workers in Jamaica whilst empowering sex workers through the creation and sustaining an enabling environment. It was important that the community of sex workers and the organization to move in accordance.
Jamaica SW Coalition, is managed by Sex Workers ( Active or retired) and only a sex worker can hold the post of President. through a democratic process the president and other executive members are elected. the board of Govoners has the final say for the operations of the Organization.
The Advisory Board - consists of key selected organizations that in the best interest of JSWC would appoint an individual to sit on the Board. The Advisory Board meets every other month to look at the progresses of the organization and may give technical advice to the executive as to the approaches that would be better for JSWC.
The Board and Management of JSWC developed the Strategic Plan for the organization, and it is to be used as a guide when seeking funding. There was a decision made by the board and management that JSWC would not become another HIV-focused organization but an organization that would be an advocate for sex workers' human and workers' rights. There was a Situational analysis conducted among the sex work community. From the findings of this Analysis, it was evident that the community required much more than has been provided by the national program (to which other service providers were subscribed to).
JSWC envisions s a Jamaica where sex work is work and the dignity of all sex workers is restored. A responsible government will ensure that it put in place policies and laws that are aligned to the Fundamental Principles of Human Rights. JSWC, began its National Rights Education program, using the Peer to Peer methodology and there is also the engagement of Law enforcement officers through rights literacy sessions.
JSWC is a National organization that operates in all areas of Jamaica. The key priority areas that JSWC works in are: Rights for sex workers, Advocacy for decriminalization of sex work and safe spaces for sex workers. JSWC relies mainly on international and Local donations to achieve its mandate.
In 2012 JSWC created a training manual for Peer to Peer Education of sex work on human rights and what laws are available to them in the context of Jamaica. The same year the manual was used to train its first set of Field Officers, these were sex workers who were selected from across Jamaica. They were them employed to work in the field. JSWC developed a partnership with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life where the sex workers were referred to for stigma free HIV and STI testing. At the end of 2012 with the ending of the CVCC funding projects there were evaluations made on the programmes that JSWC had undertaken. Out of the findings the evaluator stated that the programmes that JSWC had developed was one of Civil Society’s Promising practicus.