Every year in March, International Women’s Day focuses on celebrating the achievements of women, highlighting gender inequality, and bringing awareness to the injustice women and girls face, including human rights violations that prevent them from achieving successful futures.
Did you know that in 2016, women and girls accounted for 71 percent of modern slavery victims? Globally, 35 percent of women have ever experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner.
Violence against women can take many forms, such as domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, and exploitation. These are human rights violations experienced in countries around the world, disproportionally affecting women and girls.
Women also continue to experience bias and inequality in the workplace – from employment opportunities to salaries to promotions.
As survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence seek to establish successful futures, they can be met with challenges and limitations in the workplace. Many survivors may not have had the opportunity to build skillsets or gain education comparable to peers applying for the same positions.
For many survivors, it is not about earning a living wage, but forging a career path that will forever lift them and their families out of the vulnerabilities that led to their exploitation in the first place. As March is also Women’s History Month, it is important to look at the great strides women have taken to push past the limitations and boundaries of gender and past experiences. Celebrating women’s achievements, past and present, can help bring awareness to the injustices that still exist and create a space for people to #Choosetochallenge and overcome.
Programs and opportunities exist to support women who have experienced trafficking, are at-risk of exploitation, or who have experienced gender-based violence. Take a look at a few below:
Freedom Businesses exist to employ survivors of human trafficking and those who are at-risk. These businesses operate in countries all over the world and teach women skillsets that provide sustainable employment, preventing further risk for exploitation in their community.
Annie Canons is transforming the futures of survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence by helping them become software engineers and entrepreneurs.
Restore NYC offers job-readiness classes, job placement, and entrepreneurship training for survivors of sex trafficking. Their Economic Empowerment program helps women forge career paths through trainings, workshops, coaching, and job exploration. Upon completion, they can enter a social enterprise cooperative that connects them with a job partner.
This month, we encourage you to honor the achievements of women, past and present, and consider how you can be part of changing the future. Violence against women should not exist. But it will take us all working together to end it. Look for, elevate, and be part of solutions that can change the trajectory – in the lives of the women and girls in your orbit, and all around the world.