On Tuesday March 12th, I attended an event hosted by the Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons and Mariana Vanin from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women on using the Sustainable Development Goals to prevent women and girls from being trafficked.
On the panel were:
Angela Reed, the coordinator of Mercy Global Action. As a social worker she focused on trafficking and gender based violence. She has worked with survivors in the Philippines and Australia. She has conducted multiple research projects on human trafficking and how the experience is understood by survivors. She now focuses on prevention.
Shandra Woworuntu, the executive director of Mentari. She is a survivor leader who works with survivors of gender based violence in New York and Indonesia. Her aim is to help survivors reintegrate into society, with the aim being that they can live independently.
Ruchira Gupta, The founder and president of Apne Aap. She has worked on multiple documentaries focusing on the human rights abuses of human trafficking. She works now on advocating for the punishment, suppression, and prevention of human trafficking.
The conversation brought forth the importance of seeing human trafficking in a context with the rest of the world. Certain groups of people face oppressions (such as poverty, sexism, racism, homophobia, and so on), and human trafficking is one of the many tools of domination.
With this in mind, they all pointed to important assets that all women and girls need in order to avoid being victimized by traffickers. Basic needs, social connections, education, safety, documents, and political knowledge were some of the important things needed to prevent human trafficking. It is not hard to see how the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals would help prevent further victimization. By creating systems in which young women are able to advance themselves in positive ways, they would be less vulnerable to traffickers.
"I am not crazy, I want to make a change." - Shandra Woworuntu
Shandra brought up some important things I think we should all think about as we continue CSW 63, and our fight to end trafficking in persons. First, she clarified the role of NGOs (like ours) from the survivor's perspective. According to her, we need to act as the bridge between survivors and governments. We should be listening, learning, understanding, and identifying. Our responsibility is to work with survivors to find the best solutions, and put pressure on the right people to make it happen. With these goals in mind, I am more renewed in our need to implement the SDGs effectively than I have every been. As Shandra said "I am not crazy, I want to make a change."
Enabling Youth Through Social Protection: Education, Employment, & Environment
Apefa Adjivon (Canada) - Founder & Executive Director of The Pearl Project
Apefa runs a mentorship program for girls, that takes into account their experiences, culture, race, socioeconomic status and other factors when pairing mentors.
She spoke about how The Pearl Project came from her own barriers to accessing social protection, due to her race and gender. Her program aims to pair students up with mentors who can relate to them socially, as well as a mentor for their career interests. This gives young girls goals in terms of who, and what they want to be.
Agostino Sella (Italy) - President & Founder of Associazione Don Bosco
Associazione Don Bosco provides shelters and education for immigrants, especially those coming from Africa. They work to integrate members into Italian society by teaching them sustainable agricultural and enterprising skills.
They are then giving the opportunity to return back to their hometowns to implement sustainable agriculture micro-enterprises in those areas, to increase economic development
Devopriya Dutta (India) (Joined via prerecorded video) - Coordinator for Tarumitra
Devopriya works with youth in India on sustainable development, advocacy for those in need, women's rights, and their intertwining with cultural events. They work to educate many throughout the country on how to be organic, on solar power, and how to clean water.
Morgan Thobe (USA) - Youth Engagement Fellow at UNICEF USA
Morgan shared her insights in how as a college student, she became involved in UNICEF. She expressed concerns about how she and other college students were facing barriers to entry in terms of NGO engagement due to financial restraints. She offered insight into ongoing efforts to increase the number of paid internships.
Saphira Rameshfar - Representative to the United Nations for Baha'i International
Saphira expressed excitement in the rise of youth involvement in service to others, and described some possible futures for increased involvement. She described her view of the system as one that is inherently unjust, and called for redistribution of wealth. She raised important questions about how we will support and work with youth to address causes of poverty. She also called upon the group to think about how we can design a better system that is more inclusive to all
As a young person myself, this event was quite exciting. I was able to see what others in my age group were working on within and outside of the United Nations. The panelists were quite exciting, and doing some amazing projects. It made me very excited to not only continue this work, but to advocate for more young people to become involved. I know with more young people, we can find creative ways to protect the most vulnerable among us.
A Briefing on CSW
On January 29th, I attended a briefing on the Commission on the Status of Women. Led by H.E. Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), we were briefed on the themes, goals, and procedures.
Priority theme: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
Review Theme: Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development
The commission will take place from Monday March 11th to Friday March 22nd, concluding in the adoption of the report of the CSW on its 63rd session.
We are very excited to take part in this transformative and powerful event! I personally am quite excited to continue our efforts in CSTIP to end human trafficking for all genders with women all from around the world. We all will be updating you on events we are working on as the commission gets closer. We hope to see you there!