Women Leaders' Council
The overwhelming majority of trafficked individuals are women and children. According to recent estimates, 2 to 4 million people are trafficked annually. Data suggests that women and children are primary victims of this crime, which has a negative effect on efforts to alleviate poverty.
Historically, women leaders have been key operators in putting social development and issues earlier referred to as being "private", such as domestic violence, on the political agenda. With women's issues now gaining more public attention in the international community, various opportunities have opened up for women efforts at advocating policies concerning women.
Recognizing women leaders as an instrumental tool to assisting governments and civil society prepare strategic opportunities to advocate for the fight against human trafficking and closing gender gaps, an integral component of UN.GIFT is the establishment of a Women Leaders' Council (WLC).
UN.GIFT emphasizes the essential role women play in combating human trafficking, by bringing together women with experience and leadership in their respective fields, and who are well positioned within their individual and professional capacities to affect positive change in their nations and/or regions.
The Council will be committed to the personal and professional development of women, providing opportunities and access to critical resources, strengthening the network of supportive and positive role models, and encouraging open discussion about the complex issues surrounding human trafficking.
The WLC's overall objective is to positively influence action in the fight against Human Trafficking by providing a high-level of professional outreach, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of women's issues and human rights.
Specifically, the WLC aims to:
- Demonstrate women's leadership roles in countering global human trafficking, focusing on the overall goal of countering human trafficking in all forms of exploitation.
- Establish connections across sectors and regions to mobilize sustainable resources, knowledge and experience to fight human trafficking.
- Serve as a catalyst to strengthen the capacity and contribution of women's leadership towards preventing, suppressing and punishing trafficking in persons, especially of women and children.
The WLC will assist in informing UN.GIFT on emerging global and national challenges, particularly in reference to the inter-related areas of human trafficking to which women and children are most vulnerable.
The deliberations of the Women Leader's at the Vienna Forum were a rich exchange of ideas and experiences and mapped out a useful basis for a vibrant network, community of practices and individual commitments to action. These commitments range from public awareness raising events, innovative government policies, fund-raising support, business strategies, and other cross-sectoral collaborative efforts.
A network of Women Leaders will allow sensitisation and awareness raising, which will be instrumental in securing global commitment in the fight against human trafficking.
Article "Not for sale" (New Statesman; 29 May 2008)
Article "Emma Thompson, Helen Bamber: Finding the Silent Scream" (The Huffington Post; 17 November 2009)
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