New project to prevent modern day slavery of girls and women

The Work in Freedom project, which will be monitored and evaluated by the School, is being delivered by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The UK Government is investing £9.75 million over five years into the Work in Freedom initiative to help tackle known labour trafficking routes between South Asia, such as Bangladesh and Nepal, to the Gulf States including Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. Around 21 million people are trafficked and in forced labour worldwide, the majority are from Asia with women and girls most affected. 

Every year millions of men and women from poor communities migrate to find employment so they can send money home to support their families. They get jobs such as live-in domestic workers cooking, cleaning and looking after families or in garment factories. But many end-up being deceived and trafficked into jobs with extremely low wages or without any pay at all. Their movement is restricted, their living and working conditions are very poor, and they often suffer physical and sexual abuse.

Professor Peter Piot, Director of the School, said: “Given the large numbers of women and girls putting themselves at risk of harm to support  their families, it is exceedingly urgent that we seek strong evidence on what works to prevent human trafficking and stop extreme exploitation.”

Dr Cathy Zimmerman, project lead from the School’s Gender, Violence and Health Centre, said: “The field of trafficking has had very weak evidence on how to keep migrant women safe from exploitation. We are grateful for DFIDs investment in this intervention research so we can start to build a more robust evidence-base on what works to help working women improve their lives and livelihoods.”

The Work in Freedom project aims to:

  • Provide 50,000 women with skills and pre-departure training and other support to help them avoid being trafficked and secure a legal contract and decent wage
  • Help 30,000 women achieve greater economic empowerment so they are better able to support themselves and their families. This will be done through helping women understand their rights, enable them to organise collectively and vocational training to help ensure access to decent work opportunities in destination countries
  • Help thousands more migrant women to avoid paying extortionate, illegal recruitment fees by cracking down on unscrupulous recruitment practices and encouraging recruitment agencies to sign-up to ethical principles and practices
  • Prevent child labour by helping thousands of girls under 16 years to stay in school, so they aren’t compelled to migrate for work

The School’s evaluation will continue until 2018.

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