Interview with Betty Pedraza Lozano, Corporación Espacios de Mujer
The Corporación Espacios de Mujer is an NGO which provides assistance to sex workers in the city of Medellin and the Aburra Valley, Colombia. Espacios de Mujer implements processes for support and empowerment of women from a gender perspective.
The aim of the organisation is to provide support to those women who want to change their difficult living conditions and to prevent and fight against exploitation in the sex industry. Its activities include the creation and development of programmes and projects from a human rights based approach.
Espacios de Mujer reaches its target groups through participative workshops, socio-political training schools, group discussion, educational seminars, field work, remedial education, training for arts and trades and mass awareness campaigns.
What is the human trafficking situation for women in Colombia?
Colombia is one of the source countries of women and girls subjected to sexual exploitation in various places in the world: Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, including the United States. It is also a transit and destination country for men, women and minors subjected to forced labour. In 2012, 7 (seven) Colombian women, who were victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, were identified in Indonesia. In Colombia, men and minors are under forced labour conditions in the mining and agricultural sectors, and trafficking of women and minors continues to be a significant issue. Women and minors are mostly victims of trafficking for domestic bondage. In this regard, according to international organisations, 10% of domestic workers in Cali have experienced high levels of forced domestic labour in their first employment. NGOs in Colombia have stated that ‘begging’ is an issue in urban areas. Groups facing a greater risk of becoming victims of internal trafficking are displaced persons, women with scarce resources in rural areas, indigenous communities and the relatives of members of criminal organisations.
In Colombia, human trafficking affects some 70 thousand people each year, according to available data, and this places it third in the ranking in South America, after the Dominican Republic and Brazil. In recent years, it has become the recipient country of crime victims, almost always from neighbouring countries, Ecuador and Peru. And because of the precarious economic conditions in the country people become more vulnerable to trafficking.
In Colombia women seeking better work opportunities face many external restrictions: violence against women, high unemployment rates, low income, single motherhood, the lack of basic conditions to lead a dignified life. However, with the hope to achieve better income and quality of life, some women go through forced or voluntary migration, within or outside the country to escape violence and unemployment. The human trafficking phenomenon in Colombia is within the context of international and domestic migration process which involves organised crime networks who take advantage of the needs and situation of migrant women workers. Many women think that they will find better opportunities abroad, but few of them know what awaits them past the border.
Colombian women are vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking, given their status, the less advantageous opportunities versus men as a result of gender-based exclusion, their reduced status for access to education and the labour market, high levels of under-employment, employment in unskilled labour, the consequences of the armed conflict and its repercussions on the transformation of the structure of families. Forced displacement finally contributes to create an ideal setting for trafficking of women.
Can you describe more about your programmes on human trafficking? How do you measure the impact of this work for the women you assist?
The Corporación Espacios de Mujer works on the issue of human trafficking with the focus on prevention, assistance to victims and awareness and information campaigns.
In prevention, we are currently promoting the Campaign “¡No te dejes engañar. Porque se trata de ti!” (“Don’t let them fool you! It’s about you!”).
In the area of assistance to victims, Espacios provides referrals to assistance services and provision.
With regard to awareness and information, Espacios takes part in a variety of network and organisational activities and spaces where human trafficking is seen as one of the worst forms of gender-based violence (GBV).
What hopes do you have for your Prevention and Awareness Campaign on Human Trafficking and which methods have you found to be successful in this area of your work?
For the beneficiaries of our programmes – women in the sex industry are highly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. The Campaign “Don’t let them fool you! It’s about you!” – is one of the preventive strategies implemented by our organisation – which intends to inform, promote awareness and prevent the phenomenon of human trafficking, its causes and its consequences for victims. For Espacios de Mujer it is a social and political effort. It is a priority to put the issue of human trafficking in the public spotlight and everyday life. This is where action is taken and prevention is made possible because when people are aware of the problem, it is easier for them to avoid it and, when this is not possible it is important for them to have all the necessary information in order to reduce the damage they could suffer. In this context, the Corporación Espacios de Mujer launched the campaign “Because it’s about you!”, to create a space to deliver our messages to the residents of the city of Medellin and of the entire country. It is also our way of promoting awareness about the different elements of human trafficking. Information materials about the campaign are disseminated at schools, universities and NGOs.
Another strategy that we formulated to prevent human trafficking is the “Suitcase”, an educational and recreational kit which discusses human trafficking using 3 tools: Trata-folio, Biblio-trata and Trata-mundi. Click here to download more information about the toolkit.
Finally, further prevention strategies used include training workshops, the Atenea School, remedial education and training in arts and trades.
How did you celebrate International Women’s Day? What did the day mean for you?
Each year on March 8 – International Women’s Day – the women of Medellin, from their various political and ideological standpoints, realities and origins, raise their voices to denounce the patriarchal practices prevailing in the State and its institutions, in the Church, and the public and private sectors of society as a violation of human rights of women and girls. Espacios de Mujer went out onto the streets to march together with the various representatives of women’s social movements to strengthen our visibility to the State’s non-compliance with their commitments in upholding the rights with women in their Development Action Plan in Medellin, and the worsening situation of violence against women and institutional violence.
Every year to celebrate International Women’s Day, Espacios de Mujer carries out workshops/discussions on women’s rights.
Can you explain more about the Atenea training school and how it works with women in vulnerable situations to assist them to achieve their rights?
Knowledge, awareness... Transformation!
The ATENEA Training School is a training and information program which started in 2008. The training school offers women in vulnerable conditions an opportunity for leadership, participation and capacity building and transformation in their own communities. The idea is to strengthen processes among women participants through conceptual and practical elements in relation to awareness of their rights, demanding such rights and applying the mechanisms for participation allowing them to generate processes for self-care of their personal and social transformation.
The School works on the basis of theory-practice workshops where participants, on the basis of their own experience, readings and the planned activities, develop the basic concepts and tools to allow them to have a broader view of the issues being discussed.
The school applies the following modules:
Module 1: Sexual and Reproductive Rights: The purpose is to foster, in the general framework of human rights with a special focus on the reduction of vulnerability factors, risk behaviours and the stimulation of protective factors enabling women’s lives to become more dignified.
Module 2: Human Trafficking (especially women) for Forced Prostitution: Being aware of and identifying the general situation of victims of human trafficking by understanding the concepts, categories, modes, types, prevention actions and self-care, and assistance services.
Module 3: Human Rights (focusing on prostitution): The importance of recognising and promotion human rights and identifying participatory mechanisms that promotes the enforcement of these rights.
Module 4: Gender and Equality: Promoting awareness on gender-based analysis, that women have different identities, roles, needs and interests, to foster empowerment processes on a personal, family and social scale.
You are members of several networks. How do you work with these groups to share best practices and learn from each other?
The work of other network groups provides visibility to the work of Espacios de mujer in matters relating to prostitution, migration and human trafficking. Through participation and interaction, our efforts promote actions and participation of the general public in city areas. Working in a network also allows learning and exchange of good practices with other organisations.
Contact Espacios de Mujer:
Betty Pedraza Lozano – Director
Interview with Binoy Mallick, Rights Jessore
Rights Jessore is an organisation working in south western Bangladesh to promote and protect human rights along with the 500 NGOs within their network. They focus primarily on repatriating women who have survived trafficking for sexual exploitation to India and offer services to support women’s reintegration process. They also work with law enforcement to assist in the prosecution of traffickers. Their anti-trafficking work has been internationally recognized and they have received awards from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organization (AGFUND).
Rights Jessore have many creative activities to help prevent human trafficking. How do you decide how to engage with different target groups to ensure successful prevention is achieved?
We select the type of activities we do by observing trends and patterns of trafficking within communities and using this empirical knowledge to identify the target groups for our work and to analyse their roles and potential influence in their communities. We then sit with them and other stakeholders, such as police persons and elected bodies to work together to find solutions and develop a set of practices to work on together. We remain very flexible in terms of exploring and adopting new methodologies and strategies when working with different target groups so that efficacy of the prevention activities can be ensured to the highest degree. These include adapting our communication tools to suit the needs of the target groups, such as by showing films and engaging in trainings for peer-mentors, volunteers and community outreach teams. By working within communities to facilitate the training of peer-educators we are able to help spread information about human trafficking and offer methods and tools for prevention.
Rights Jessore is very successful at reuniting human trafficking survivors with their families. How do you achieve such high levels of success in this area? Do you ever encounter trafficked persons who do not want to be reunited with their families? How do you support these individuals?
When working with trafficked persons to assess their desire to be reunited with their families we will work with both them and their families and communities to first asses the suitability for this return and to help prepare for it. As our organization is highly regarded and trusted families are often interested in learning the practical suggestions we have to assist them to support their returnee loved one. This can include by engaging in trainings and workshops with other families who have experienced trafficking of their daughter or sister, as it tends to be, in order to shed the stigma sometimes held for women who have endured trafficking. By working with families who have had similar experiences we are able to generate a wider support system to prepare families for the repatriation process. We never turn a family or a trafficking survivor away and we continue to support them if reunification is achieved by continuing to respond to their calls regarding any problems they face during the integration process.. In cases where it is not suitable to return a trafficked woman to her family we will try again to engage families in supporting the survivor and offer counselling to women whose family members were involved in their trafficking experience. We recommend women report their traffickers to the police, even when they are relatives and we support the survivor’s path towards a new start, either within or outside the community.
In cases where the survivors do not wish to return home we try to support them with a job placement outside of their original communities considering their skills and education or send them for business training if they do not yet have a skill. The job placement is followed by vocational/ life skills/capacity building trainings, and again, we always maintain communication with the survivor to ensure she is doing well. In essence we become her new family.
Can you tell us more about your most recent projects such as the Awareness Raising Campaign to facilitate safe migration and reduce trafficking in persons, as well as your work on Community Safety Nets to combat trafficking at the grass roots level and the Counter Trafficking Women Forum?
Of our recent projects; “To improve prosecutorial process of trafficking case of all forms and influence the legal reformation through evidence based advocacy” supported by Winrock International/USAID, as well as ‘Enhancing Vulnerable Communities’ Access to Justice’ and support mainstreaming of trafficking survivors supported by Government of Canada are significant. Under these projects we have supported 40 survivors with alternative livelihood options and provided vulnerable communities with adequate legal education on the existing trafficking related legal instruments. This has allowed communities to feel empowered to access the existing justice service facilities. We have also printed booklets with information on relevant laws and the basic information with regard to human trafficking and safe migration so that the vulnerable communities can consult the book. We have also installed billboards in different public places with relevant information as part of our mass awareness campaign in prevention of human trafficking.
Under the Winrock International/USAID supported project we have been contributing to improve the prosecutorial process of the human trafficking cases. The project is focused on advocacy at local and policy level. We have identified the different phases of the prosecution process and thereby have uncovered the relevant target groups to work with. We have then engaged with in advocacy work to help influence a change in the existing practices. Specifically, we are in dialogue with the Judiciaries motivating investigation officers of the police (who deal with human trafficking cases) and are working to sensitise lawyers and media people towards a more holistic approach which will improve the prosecutorial process of the human trafficking cases. We have already achieved some tangible results i.e. the police are now proactive to register trafficking cases under the newly enacted human trafficking law, investigation officers (IO) are submitting their investigation reports to the special public prosecutors (SPP) so that the SPP can scan through the reports and help the IO with necessary feedback to make the report more evidence based, journalist are not breaching the victims’ confidentiality and Judges have become more aware of factors that influence the victim and are more prepared to settle the case out of court if it will benefit the victim.
The concept of establishing social safety net through forming community level watchdog committees like Counter Trafficking Women Forum (CTWF) was first applied to 20 unions (1 union composed of around 15 villages) and it was replicated to another 182 unions. Here we engaged womens groups in anti-trafficking and other related work as we thought women had an unique insight into issues of domestic violence, child marriage and other happenings at community level. These women share their knowledge with men and the rest of their communities and raise their voices collectively to seek support from other agencies to fight the social problems. We have built the capacities of these female leaders at grass root level communities and formed a 15 member committee involving women from different professions such as house wives, local elected members, law enforcement agencies, teachers, students, social workers etc. and linked them with the existing service facilities. Now, the CTWF has become motivated and vigilant and whenever they encounter incidences of domestic violence or human trafficking they are standing united to protect the victim or offer counseling to the victim’s family members, or informing Rights Jessore for further support. We have also built the capacities of the community level stakeholders so that they can identify incidents of trafficking and domestic violence and can decide on the avenues for action.This social safety net mechanism has been successfully functioning at community level.
As you acknowledge, gender inequality often serves to deny women their rights. How does Rights Jessore’s thematic focus on women’s rights and empowerment overcome these challenges and work to ensure women’s participation in social programming?
We believe in gender equitable participation in community development processes. All of our community development projects are women and child focused and we always try to ensure active women’s participation in our program planning and implementation process. Usually we prefer the community led development approach. We have been working to enhance women’s access to the justice services and advocating for the promotion of equal gender participation in community development processes.
GAATW as an Alliance of like-minded groups is always interested to learn about our Members’ successful work through networking. How does your relationship with the Indian government and like-minded NGOs in India as well as Bangladesh enhance your work?
Networking with other like-minded NGOs always enriches our knowledge by encountering different perspectives. Our nature of work has intrinsically made us dependable on different agencies/networks and good working relationships truly enhance our work and scope of influence of our work and strengthen our capacity to provide for our target groups. Specifically our working relationship with the Indian government counterpart and NGOs working in India has provided us with opportunity to widen the sites and destinations of our work in order to support the trafficking victims with Rescue, Recovery, and Repatriation and Integration (RRRI) services.
Contact Rights Jessore at:
Summary of conversation with Silvia Berbec, Asociatia Pro Refugiu
Asociatia Pro Refugiu, (Pro Refuge Association) work both to offer legal support through a network of 10 lawyers and psychosocial support to members of their target groups; trafficked persons, asylum seekers and refugees throughout Romania. They recently ran a successful campaign in schools with young people to offer training in how to use their National Online Platform which helps young people identify the risks of trafficking in terms which are accessible to them which equips them to avoid the dangers and share these lessons with friends.
Can you tell us about the human trafficking situation in Romania and its impact on peoples’ lives?
Romania is considered to be a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of human trafficking where statistics show that almost 1000 victims are identified annually, however of course the real number of victims is much higher. According to statistics provided by the Romanian National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons in 2011 around 743 victims (from a total number of 1048 identified victims) were subjected to human trafficking outside the country where the majority were trafficked to Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany, although there is internal trafficking as well. Around 30% of victims in Romania are children. Data from 2011 and 2012 reveal the most common forms of exploitation experienced by trafficked persons were sexual exploitation, labor exploitation and forced begging. As is the case for many victims of human trafficking the recovery is very slow and there is a need for a long period of specialized support such as psychological, social, legal counseling and assistance during the rehabilitation process.
How does Asociatia Pro Refugiu work with trafficked persons, asylum seekers, refugees or other groups or individuals to identity their needs and make sure these needs are met?
In order to identify the needs of trafficked persons, asylum seekers and refugees our organization works closely with the Romanian General Inspectorate for Immigration, National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons and other NGOs. We are privileged that through our close partnerships with the Romanian authorities we are allowed access to the special centres where refuges and other target groups we work stay. From there our staff can offer services and we can also offer the services one of the 10 lawyers in our network. These lawyers provide legal counsel to explain the national legislation processes and offer legal representation if it is desired. The refugee or other target group member will then have the same lawyer that initially offered them counsel to represent them and so we provide a comprehensive support system. NGOs in similar fields of work also refer to us trafficked persons or those from other target groups we work with so the reach of our network of lawyers can extend further throughout different regions in Romania. We keep files for the individuals we support so that we can remain updated about the services each member of the target group is receiving and we can monitor progress in order to better provide for this person’s needs.
How does Asociatia Pro Refugiu’s legal work and campaigning in schools with young people address the issues of human trafficking? What are some of your achievements and continued challenges in these areas of work? What role do you see for young people in challenging some of the issues of human trafficking?
As mentioned, Asociatia Pro Refugiu has a network of 10 lawyers who provide necessary assistance to prepare victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers and refugees for their interactions with authorities such as Immigration authority, police, prosecutor or national courts. Our work with young people addresses the concern that they are a group who are vulnerable to trafficking and one which responds well to online information dissemination. Therefore following a national campaign in 2012 to raise awareness in schools of our National Online Platform http://youth-against-humantrafficking.org/, we offer continued training on the use of the Platform so young people are able to obtain relevant information in order to be able to identify the risks of trafficking, protect themselves and also to transmit the message to other young people. We are pleased that this is a success as we currently have over 400 participants using the Platform, some from different regions of Romania which proves young people are good communicators for this positive work.
As an Alliance GAATW are always interested to learn more about the networking and collaborative work our Members do. Please could you tell us more about your experiences working with public authorities, Romanian or foreign associate ions and foundations with similar interests. What have been some of the benefits and challenges of partnering with others?
Asociatia Pro Refugiu has a good relationship of communication exchange with relevant authorities such as the Romanian General Inspectorate for Immigration and National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons. We work with them in our workshops and round table discussions to discuss and identify useful strategies and tactics to improve the specialized assistance for the target groups we work with. Special collaboration protocols have been established with these as well as fellow NGOs in order to refer victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers and refugees to our services. Additionally we maintain record of which other national and foreign NGOs or service providers, such as psychologists or legal counselors, we work with in order to exchange data concerning members of target groups that need counseling and assistance and share good practices among our fellow specialists. We hope this will allow our network to continue to expand as these collaborations and partnerships essentially benefit the groups we work with as well as provide the opportunities for like-minded organisations to learn from each other.
More information about Asociatia Pro Refugiu's campaign:
Since March 2011, Association Pro Refugiu started a special campaign to inform young people about the implications of the phenomenon of human trafficking, the factors that can lead to the recruitment of victims, the applicable law. More than 5000 young people have been trained and continue to invite their friends from other schools to learn about the National Online Platform.
Pro Refugiu also distributes brochures for people who have been victims of trafficking, the aim is to inform them about their rights in criminal proceedings. The importance lies in giving basic legal education to victims and encourage them to access services they are entitled to receive
Summarised conversation with Renu of WOREC
During the recent GAATW Strategy Meeting Member Organisation WOREC in particular advocated for a need to re-focus issues of trafficking and initiates towards safer migration opportunities for women within the broader structural context of continued violence against women (VAW). We asked Renu (Chairperson National Alliance of Women Human Right Defenders) to share her insights about negotiating safe migration within an environment of violence among returnee migrant women in Nepal.
What is the situation of violence for women living in Nepal and how does WOREC’s work for survivors and Women Human Rights Defenders aim to challenge this situation?
Violence against women is a pervasive issue for women in Nepal, regardless of their migration status. For example in just one year, between July 2011 and June 2012, WOREC registered 1581 cases of different forms of violence, including a recent case of rape of a returnee migrant woman worker by a police officer and as well as the looting of her money by immigration officers. WOREC has a three-pronged approach to challenge VAW which includes; raising awareness and strengthening solidarity against VAW; creating support mechanisms for survivors such as the seven safe houses it runs; and finally though its advocacy work. WOREC’s advocacy work itself is broad as they engage with the government and provide training to civil servants, work directly with the UN Special Rapporteur on VAW and organise campaigns in collaboration with (WHRDs) networks. WOREC’s work with the National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders operates extensively throughout Nepal to support survivors and is itself a highly successful system of organisation.
How do you understand the specific issues of trafficking and migration within a context of violence against women? How does this understanding help frame the types of anti-trafficking and safe migration responses you would like to see?
In my opinion trafficking is a form of violence against migrant women so I personally feel the response against trafficking has to be in terms of direct action in the fight for rights for women overall. Only when women's rights to work and to migrate safely, including access to information, are secured then we can expect to see a decline in women’s experiences of violence in this process all the way from origin to destination.
Can you tell us a bit more about WOREC’s recent National Conference on Violence against Women (NCVAW) entitled; Holistic Approaches to Realizing Women’s Rights Ensuring Justice, Ensuring Rights: From victimhood to agency? What were some of the main issues that arose from this meeting and what strategies have WOREC put into place to succeed in overcoming the challenges faced by women in Nepal?
WOREC recently organised the National Conference on Violence against Women (NCVAW) entitled; Holistic Approaches to Realizing Women’s Rights Ensuring Justice, Ensuring Rights: From victimhood to agency in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s office, National Women’s Commission and WHRDs from across Nepal. With a commitment to centring the rights of survivors the discussions at the conference raised the need to review existing government policies and framework against VAW, as it was unanimously decided that present frameworks are discriminatory in their conceptualisation of women as victims incapable of agency. Additionally it was revealed that there was a need to strengthen measures for the security of WHRDs who serve as champions for bringing issues of VAW to the surface, especially in situations where state machinery is inadequate. Government bodies have a lot to learn from civil society groups and WHRDs about the realities of VAW in Nepal so this information exchange is crucial for positive partnerships and in the formation of government strategies to challenge VAW.
Please can you also share with the Alliance Members some reflections from your recent GAATW trip to Lebanon and Doha.
This trip was an eye opening experience for me as it revealed the slavery like conditions women were being forced to work under. After seeing examples where women had worked for over 30 years yet lacked status and any form of support network I feel it is very important for us as women’s right activists to remember that within our campaign for women's rights to mobility for work are their rights to dignity. Although I remain committed to the belief that women must exercise their right to mobility, I would also argue that migrating women need pre-employment information and effective training from the state and leave with necessary skills. Efforts to secure their safety require more networking and building of support systems and safety nets. Similarly, it is also necessary that Governments create follow-up and support mechanisms in countries where migrant workers are sent to work, and for women migrant workers governments need to create mechanisms which allow returnee migrant women to be able to come and share the experiences of their working conditions and access supported if needed. I was quite surprised to see modern day slavery being practiced in these countries under the name of the Kafala system and in my view without dismantling this system women and men should not accept the work in these countries. If all of us start making noise and stand firmly against this we can make the difference and can ensure that women who migrate for labour purposes can exercise their right to work in safe environment.
Violence against Women (VAW) is a pervasive issue being perpetuated by the deep-rooted patriarchal and orthodox norms and values widespread in the Nepali society. VAW’s major manifestations (domestic violence, social violence, mental violence, sexual harassments, rape and trafficking) are an all-pervading issue affecting the lives of more than half of the country’s population. VAW harms families and communities across generations, and reinforces other forms of violence in the society. It also impoverishes women, their families, communities and nation. It is not confined to a specific culture, caste/ethnicity, region or country, or to particular groups of women within a society. The roots of VAW lie in persistent discrimination against women. In Nepali society, semi-feudal and patriarchal structure, superstitions and illiteracy among women, as well as poverty and marginalization of women are the factors accelerating the cases of VAW at large. At the same time, impunity in the state and weak enforcement of law are also responsible for VAW.
WHRDs Campaign: http://www.worecnepal.org/campaigns/women-human-rights-defenders
Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are the people who are bringing the cases of violence against women in public. They are the activists who are supporting victims of violence risking their own lives. WOREC Nepal has managed to create a common platform for women working in different issues of human rights to come together and advocate for their rights and security. This platform is recognized as Women Human Rights Defenders Campaign that has been ongoing since 2005.
An interview with Alice Maranga of FIDA-Kenya
FIDA Kenya is a registered non-government organisation committed to creating a society that is free from all forms of injustices and discrimination against women. Its membership is composed of women lawyers and women law students who aim to bring about improved legal status and access to justice for women and to raise public awareness on women's rights issues. FIDA Kenya hosts the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Network which seeks to devise ways of eliminating trafficking in persons and especially trafficking in women and children.
In 2009 GAATW strengthened its relationship with FIDA Kenya by facilitating training for Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR). This process counteracts the critique that anti-trafficking work sometimes makes assumptions about what is best for women by highlighting how women themselves are steering change in their own communities. The research was carried out by migrant women in the informal sector and was brought together in FIDA Kenya and GAATW’s publication The Realities and Agency of Informal Sector Workers: The Account of Migrant Women Workers in Nairobi.
Since FIDA Kenya’s findings from the Feminist Participatory Action Research in 2009 have the Kenyan authorities made any effort towards policies which recognise the labour rights, and broader human rights, of informal sector workers - particularly those most disadvantaged or discriminated against such as women and migrant workers?
The Kenyan government promulgated the Constitution in 2010 which has many positive attributes including the labour rights in article 41(1) which decrees that every person has a right to fair labour practices, (2) every worker has the right to; (a) fair remuneration; (b) to reasonable working conditions; (3) every employer has the right to form and join an employer’s organization.
How have the Jitahidi Women’s Group and Good Hope Women’s Group, who formed during the FPAR process, developed organisationally? – Have their membership levels continued to rise and how have they evolved in their concerns and advocacy/activism?
FIDA-Kenya’s Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) 2009 initiative with women migrants in the informal sector has continued. After the training Jitahidi Women Group has grown to over twenty members, has become officially registered and prepared a work plan with the aim of uniting small scale business to enable workers to lobby and advocate for their labour rights. With the support of Fida Kenya the group have partnered with APHIA PLUS, a health project to improve access to health services, and have been trained in maternal and child health care, family planning, community hygiene, marketing product development, village saving loans, as volunteer outreach counsellors (V.O.C), Watoto Pamoja project and creating awareness of disabled children’s rights. The group also conducts training at the community level on HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning methods, voluntary male circumcision (VMMC) and Education Through Listening (ETL). The group has also partnered with Kawangware Urumwe Youth Project and community policing and Nairobi disabled Network. The group has also contributed to capacity building of FIDA Kenya’s clients through income generating initiatives. Small scale businesses have been developed and as a result there have been improvements in living standards and reductions in domestic violence.
Since the FPAR in 2009 membership for the Good Hope Women Group has increased to a total of 25 members. They trained in the preparation of detergents that they sell as a group and then share the profits. Apart from working as group in detergent preparation they also have their own different businesses supported by collective funds which members contribute every two weeks. Additionally they are involved in assisting people affected by HIV/AIDS in the community and do human rights advocacy and civic education on governance and democracy.
What advantages and disadvantages did you identify in using FPAR as a research model? Have you used it since 2009? How did you find this process?
The FPAR approach is empowering in the sense that it allows the recipients to realize their strength and human rights. It is an approach that targets women to realize their potential and enhances the development of women, as indicated by Jitahidi and Women Group. Since 2009 FIDA Kenya has used the approach to organize clients through Good Morning sessions which are 45 minutes session where clients are given information on different issues that affect them including information that could empower them economically. These women have been empowered to start small scale businesses and there has been a reduction of violence within these families.
Is the NGO-network of anti-trafficking organisations (of which FIDA was a part) still active?
Yes it is. The meetings are convened by the Ministry of Gender Social Services and Children Development, Department of Children. The network includes members from both civil society organizations and government ministries. Currently the network members are implementing the National Plan of Action on anti- trafficking in persons.
Which areas have FIDA Kenya’s most recent work focused on?
FIDA Kenya’s recent focus has been on the implementation of the Constitution (2010) which stated that members of parliament should not be made up of more two thirds of either gender, however ahead of the 2013 elections women remain underrepresented. The campaign on implementation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 also focuses on public interest litigation in inheritance and labour rights cases for women. The organization has also filed a case relating to the denial or dismissal of women who are due to take maternity leave. This is as result of many women reporting cases of losing their jobs when they announce their pregnancies at work. FIDA Kenya is also lobbying and advocating for the passing of the Family Bills which include the Family Protection Bill 2012, Property Rights Bill 2012, Marriage Bill 2012 and Family Protection Bill 2012 where we hope to see affirmative action taken place by the Government.
What are FIDA Kenya’s current anti-trafficking initiatives?
FIDA Kenya’s current work on trafficking in persons involves conducting education forums with law enforcement officers including police officers and Chiefs. The programme also targets women and youth leaders to create awareness of the Anti- Trafficking in Persons Act 2010. The programme is part of the plans to roll out the National Plan of Action to combating trafficking in persons.
Has there been any attempt by any donor or NGO to carry out research to find out the impact of anti-trafficking work in Kenya or to monitor what is being done to stop human trafficking?
In 2009 UNODC initiated an exploratory study into issues relating to organized crime and trafficking as part of their research into the developments of the 2009 to 2012 Regional Programme for Eastern Africa to promote the Rule of Law and Human Security. The Programme covered thirteen countries of Eastern Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. However, despite significant efforts by governments, international agencies and NGOs to eliminate trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling these issues continue to be a major concern in Africa. This is due to the large migration flows, resulting from formal economic unions and expansive, open borders, making trafficking and smuggling of people difficult to detect. The prospect of better living conditions elsewhere is most frequently the motivating factor for trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling as many people desire to move closer to areas that present them with increased opportunities. An uneven regulatory framework, poor international cooperation, lack of awareness among both the police and the population has made anti-trafficking responses difficult. As trafficking networks become more organized and ruthless, so the problem becomes increasingly more prominent.