In the Issues Affecting Women Programme, we recognise that human trafficking is fuelled by complex and interconnected factors and believes that a rights-based approach is fundamental to combating human trafficking and ensuring justice for trafficked persons. We also recognise the importance of supporting women who experience various forms of exploitative working conditions in informal or unregulated industries, but who may not qualify as a victim of trafficking under the legal definition of the Palermo Protocol. Our primary concern is the well-being, recovery and empowerment of women and girls who find themselves in all kinds of exploitative situations where their rights are being violated.
We provide financial support and seek to strengthen the institutional capacities (including the sustainability) of those organisations and networks that adopt or strive to adopt a rights-based approach to providing comprehensive, coordinated and client-centred services to victims of trafficking and exploitation. This rights-based approach encompasses an engagement with victims that promotes the agency and empowerment of survivors. It also informs advocacy for the adoption and effective implementation of anti-trafficking legislation and policies that place a trafficked person’s priorities and best interest at the centre of anti-trafficking work and recognise the need to protect and assist the victims of all forms of trafficking. We further support survivors and groups likely to be affected by anti-trafficking policies.
We are also committed to supporting initiatives that prevent trafficking and exploitation by: creating greater awareness of trafficking patterns through education, research, training and outreach, engaging with and empowering groups of women at risk of trafficking such as women migrants, asylum seekers, sex workers and domestic workers, and broadening the understanding of the factors of vulnerability that lead to patterns of trafficking and exploitation. One such factor is the violence and abuse a woman may experience in childhood and/or in previous intimate relationships. Another factor of vulnerability is the migration process itself as women now constitute half the international migrant population and are often compelled by economic factors to migrate via unsafe routes and in hazardous conditions to forge a new life for themselves and their families.
We are also working to link organisations and networks that are active in countries of origin, transit and destination to promote the creation of formal connections, allow the exchange of information to inform prevention and advocacy activities, and improve the effectiveness of services to women victims of violence through the sharing of lessons learned and best practices. To date, we have already promoted this kind of networking and coalition building between the U.S., Mexico & Central America and in the Balkans between Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. We have also begun supporting transnational projects that include multi-national stakeholders and advocacy strategies. Finally, our programme supports evidence-based research and innovation in the field—for example, deconstructing the relationship between trafficking and masculinity to improve our understanding of the psychological, cultural, social, and economic motivations of men that participate in the trafficking of women and girls.