Kickstarting a joint solidarity mission to the Horn of Africa with the African Union’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop, Deputy UN Chief, Amina J. Mohammed participated in an early morning dialogue event on combatting the scourge of human trafficking with Ethiopian women leaders.
Convened on the theme: The Transformational Role of Women in addressing Human Trafficking: Looking at Gender Dimensions, the forum was organized by the Norwegian Embassy to Ethiopia in collaboration with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, as part of ongoing efforts to launch national ‘Blue heart’ campaigns to combat human trafficking around the world.
“Ethiopia has shown its leadership in the fight against human trafficking, as the first Sub-Saharan country to join 30 other countries supporting the United Nations Blue Heart Campaign.
“The country has also been a leader in advancing the participation of women in public life, including through a political cabinet that is half female. In fact, the Nobel Peace Prize just awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed highlighted his role in “significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life,” she said.
Ms Mohammed further hailed Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for efforts to increase women in decision making in political and other offices. Having achieved 50% gender parity in his cabinet, this, she stressed, “ is leadership.”
She congratulated the Prime Minister for the Nobel peace prize, which also highlighted his role in significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life.
The Deputy Chief argued that harnessing the energies, skills and resources “of all parts of our societies to address global challenges and achieve the SDGs means enabling women to have a voice and an active role,”
This, she noted, “applies too to our efforts to prevent and counter human trafficking as multiple targets under the SDGs call for addressing human trafficking to prevent abuse and exploitation, eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls, eradicate forced labour and child labour and stop transnational organized crime.”
For his part, UNODC Regional Representative, Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Amado Philip de Andre, lauded the government of Ethiopia for “leading from the front” and expressed regret that the heinous crime of human trafficking continues to plague the region and the wider world.
“Regionally, sub-Saharan countries account for 55 % of all trafficking victims detected globally. As a man, husband and the father of two daughters, I also feel a great responsibility to listen, contribute’ and advocate for this crime to be curbed and for prosecutions to be successful. This is personal to me; I hope that you will feel the same urge to say no more! I need to be part of the prevention and the solutions. I encourage you all to be messengers and Ambassadors of this noble cause – Ethiopians are not for sale,” he pleaded.
The AU Special envoy, Bineta Diop hailed Ethiopia for joining the Blue Heart campaign. “I’m glad that the campaign is gaining momentum and bringing more stakeholders together to fight the scourge of human trafficking, she said.
Discussants included government and civil society representatives working to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims returning from middle eastern countries, who arrive with some of their organs stolen; with illnesses and or even having borne children. The women return broken and with many health challenges.
The discussions stressed the linkages between women’s empowerment and promotion of sustainable growth, which requires breaking down barriers of access to economic resources, increasing access to education and keeping girls in school and help prevent human trafficking. Integrated responses are needed.
These echoed the forum, must be in line with the protocol against human trafficking and other international commitments that bring in all stakeholders the private sector and civil society, as well as sectors in government such as criminal justice, social services, health and education.
It was also noted that women need to be part of the design and implementation of interventions and services aimed at preventing and reintegrating survivors of human trafficking. They are disproportionately affected, they underwent systems that failed them and as such, solutions need to be tailored and inspired by their strengths and experiences.