Of the over 40 million people worldwide shackled by modern slavery, 70 percent are women and girls as gender discrimination is a primary driving factor in enslavement. Pandemic isolation has further exasperated the human trafficking and slavery crisis.
To empower women and survivors of modern slavery to lead anti-slavery organizations, the largest global funder of frontline, anti-slavery organizations, The Freedom Fund, virtually launched its Freedom Rising initiative on December 2nd with keynote speakers Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights joined from Geneva, and Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former president of Ireland. A lineup of speakers including P. Jayashree, Program Manager, CARE (Tamil Nadu), Claire Falconer, The Freedom Fund’s Head of Global Initiatives and Movement Building, Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator of Asia Floor Wage Alliance were moderated by Amy Rahe, The Freedom Fund’s North America Director.
“Initiatives to support women’s leadership like this one are crucial, especially at this critical moment as the world battles a global pandemic,” Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights stated. “We know that putting women at the center, indeed ensuring women are at the helm, will help ensure our collective success in meeting the global changes that we face together.”
Al-Nashif cited women’s role in inspiring local and national movement as the “backbone of vibrant communities across the globe.” Citing the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration as a “remarkable achievement” she noted various women’s activism and leadership across the globe from August 1956 Women’s March in Pretoria, South Africa against Apartheid, to Rosa Parks, to Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina to the current women’s movement in Belarus, Myanmar and Black Lives Matter. “Progress and transformative change are impossible without” women’s participation she said, underscoring Freedom Rising as an exemplary effort to tackle these issues.
In her remarks Mary Robinson expressed how Covid-19 “is the mirror that has exacerbated the inequalities” bringing about a “feminist idea of the intersectionality of the inequalities.”
“If build back better is to go beyond the slogan, we need a new paradigm of leadership that draws on the successful examples of women,” Robinson cited the successful