At the beginning of 2020, GAATW adopted a new Strategic Plan to guide our work in the next ten years. It was the result of a two-year process that involved an external assessment of the Alliance, four regional consultations with GAATW Members in South and Southeast Asia, Europe, and South America, and a Theory of Change exercise guided by an external facilitator.
The Strategic Plan responds to the following socioeconomic and political context that impacts the lives of migrant and trafficked women, as well as the specific challenges of anti-trafficking work:
- The neoliberal economic model puts profits over people, demands reduced government and no regulations for businesses, as well as the privatisation and dismantling of social protections and public services. It has resulted in growing inequality between rich and poor in both developed and developing countries.
- The weakening of labour rights, trade unions and collective bargaining, and a rise in zero-hour, piece-rate contracts and the gig economy, all of which have led to erosion of the hard-won victories of the labour movement and increased precarity of work. Digitalisation and technology are accelerating these changes.
- The climate crisis is destroying people’s homes and livelihoods, especially subsistence farming. This is pushing people into distress migration to cities or other countries to find salaried work.
- Patriarchal social attitudes are the cause of violations of women’s rights. One of the underlying reasons for women’s exploitation is the undervaluation of women’s work. The gender wage gap is widely recognised by activists and policymakers but less so is the unpaid domestic, care and household work, which women perform between 1.5 and 4 times more than men worldwide.
- Rising inequality and the uneven benefits of globalisation are leading to a crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarian, “strongman”, populist leaders. These men are promoting nationalist policies and undermining the international rules-based order and multilateralism. International institutions like the UN are either ignored or actively destroyed. There is a rollback of hard-won rights, especially for women and LGBTI people.
- Governments are cracking down on civil society and human rights work, criminalising solidarity, and forcing NGOs to register as foreign agents.
- Anti-trafficking work is dominated by simplistic narratives of evil criminals and helpless victims while ignoring the larger socioeconomic and political issues. Simplistic narratives lead to simplistic “solutions”, such as the criminalisation of clients of sex workers, or restrictions on women’s migration, as well as, more broadly, stricter law enforcement and border controls. Such measures do nothing to ensure decent jobs and working conditions but cause enormous negative consequences, especially for migrants and sex workers.
- Donors contribute to the marginalisation of civil society, as their funding is increasingly short-term and project-based, forcing NGOs to spend a huge amount of time fundraising and reporting, and to become merely service providers while abandoning their role of watchdogs. There is little time left to reflect and analyse everyday work and many become more and more disconnected from communities and social movements.
Within this context, our Strategic Plan 2020 – 2030 sets the following four broad goals:
- To contribute to a change in the discourse on trafficking from an issue of law enforcement and crime to one at the intersections of gender, migration, labour, and development.
- To contribute to a change in the policies and responses to trafficking so that they are respectful of women’s agency and based on a labour rights approach rather than protectionist and criminalisation approaches.
- To create spaces for intersectional, inter-movement dialogues built upon a shared feminist, rights-based analysis of labour migration.
- To challenge the social and economic invisibility of women’s work, promote policy recognition of women workers, and support their mobilisation, collective voice, and bargaining power.
We will achieve this through our four core strategies: