GAATW’s thematic strategic direction documents the Alliance’s two-pronged approach involving (1) critical engagement with the anti-trafficking framework and (2) linking trafficking with gender, migration, and labour frameworks. This approach is not new for GAATW, which has embraced this two-pronged approach inception. However, by separating gender, labour, and migration and analysing their intersections with trafficking, we have been able to better engage with related movements and understand lines of overlap and tension.

During 2011-13, through our Power in Migration and Work thematic programme, we engaged more directly with the migrant rights and labour rights movements. During 2014-2016 our work will build on the work of previous years: we will continue to push for a human rights based approach in anti-trafficking policies and practices.  We will also deepen our engagement with the issue of migration and labour.

The three thematic strategic issues outlined below are continuations of our work during 2011-13.


Increasing the accountability of all anti-trafficking stakeholders involved in the design or implementation of anti-trafficking responses, towards the persons whose human rights they purport to protect.

GAATW members have long shared a concern over the inability of anti-trafficking initiatives to protect and promote the rights of trafficked persons.  Indeed, the key finding of GAATW’s 2007 report Collateral Damage was that initiatives to prevent trafficking have had numerous negative rather than positive impacts on trafficked persons, as well as other groups. Furthermore, GAATW’s 2010 review of anti-trafficking reports found that measures routinely failed to incorporate an assessment by the person who had been trafficked. Cumulatively, these findings revealed the need for monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking initiatives to include the participation of key stakeholders to ensure mutual accountability.

This programme seeks to reaffirm the right of the community to express their voices in monitoring initiatives intended to benefit them, recognising that victims are not a monolithic category, but speak with a plurality of voices that require space to be heard.

Projects under this programme in 2017.


Broadening spaces for trafficked persons and migrant workers to practice their human rights by improving access to justice and combating all forms of discrimination that impact women’s ability to exercise their human rights as they relate to trafficking.

Access to Justice has been an on-going priority for the GAATW International Secretariat (IS) and its members for many years. While members engage directly with the legal system in their countries, the GAATW-IS focuses on international spaces and tries to highlight gaps. The IS Team also carries out consultations and research and facilitates learning workshops. By introducing a stronger non-discrimination framework into our efforts, we have tried to: address anti-migration, anti-prostitution, and xenophobic sentiments; better understand the link between discrimination and exploitation; facilitate members’ involvement with regional and international individual complaints mechanisms; and explore how discrimination intersects with women’s and practitioners’ attempts to access justice and enjoy their rights.

Projects under this programme in 2017.


Centring an analysis of women’s power in their labour and migration to better assess migration and labour policies’ impact on women, and to work towards labour and migration processes that reflect migrants’ needs, aspirations and capabilities.

Governments and other anti-trafficking stakeholders, including some of our members, continue to frame trafficking primarily as a migration and border issue, using concepts such as ‘safe migration’ or ‘circular migration’. However, we don’t seek to prevent migration as a means of preventing exploitation. Rather, we work to ensure that: women are able to access the most appropriate means of migration and work and retain independence, are empowered, and at no times suffer due to protectionism.

Centring an analysis on women’s power in their labour and migration could assist in guarding against protectionism in labour migration policies (e.g. restricting women’s migration for their safety) and allow a more thorough analysis of how labour migration policies reflect migrant’s needs, aspirations, and capabilities. Centring ‘power in migration and work’ can also assist our understanding of, and efforts towards, economic justice for migrants, workers’ power in recruitment processes, trafficked persons’ power in assistance processes, smuggling, migrant workers’ rights in the Middle East, and other under-researched areas, to name a few examples.

Projects under this programme in 2017.