Last night I asked my six year old niece two questions.

Firstly, the age old tried and tested, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” This was met with the swift response of “an artist”. (The Christmas present request I’d just received for a new set of Sharpies probably should’ve put me on notice of her artistic ambitions). The second was, “what do you think you will need to do to be an artist?” This was met with the very adorable yet specific: “I will need to sketch a lot so I can draw snakes that entwine”.

Now, while I have little doubt that in twenty years my niece may in fact be a master artist of entwining snakes, experience would suggest that next week there is every chance that she might wish to be a master of something else. Perhaps a master swimmer, author, teacher, banker… the list goes on. But regardless of the answer, it got me thinking. There really isn’t much she couldn’t do if she put her creative and organised little mind to it. She has the ultimate freedom to choose to be whatever she wants to be.

 

Women’s Freedom

 

This got me thinking that sadly, not all women and girls have the same freedom to choose. Women and girls make up 71% of victims of modern slavery – that’s nearly 30 million. They make up 99% of all victims of sexual exploitation and 84% of forced marriages. They are marginalised through a lack of education and training and are concentrated in industries that rely on informal work. After the pandemic, an estimated 11 million girls may not return to school, further increasing their risk of being forced into child marriage. In countries affected by fragility violence and conflict, girls are already 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys. At the secondary level, are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school. These systemic inequalities all contribute to women’s disempowerment, enables their exploitation and denies them any sense of self-determination.

These numbers are of course, hard to process at the best of times. How can one six year old’s dreams be realised and another’s be denied in such dehumanising ways? But as the big scary universe throws these seemingly insurmountable challenges at us, we know, and we have to remember, that two things remain true: women and girls are resilient, and, there is always strength in numbers.

 

Women’s Empowerment

 

Instead of focusing on the numbers that frighten us, let’s focus on what empowers us. Over the past 50 years, an increase in education attainment accounted for around 50% of economic growth in OECD countries. Empowering women to participate in the global economy and the world of work through education, upskilling and re-skilling is critical for women’s and girl’s health and wellbeing, as well as income generating opportunities and formal participation in labour market. In the lead up to Human Rights Day coming up on 10 December 2021, these numbers are the ones we want to focus on, to help every little artist become whatever they want to be.

 

How Can You Partner to Help?

 

The Freedom Hub (TFH) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that exists to end modern slavery. We work to help survivors recover and rehabilitate and partner with like-minded organisations in the fight to end global slavery. TFH’s Survivor School provides the only national, long-term, trauma-informed rehabilitation programs for survivors of modern slavery in Australia. By providing mental health support, social, educational and employment training, we help survivors to live and work independently in their community with dignity and respect.

 

How can people partner with TFH to help end slavery for women?

 

There are PLENTY of ways you can join us to help end modern slavery for women and girls:

  • Visit: Our social enterprise café in Waterloo funds our Survivor School. Drop by for a coffee, a bite to eat, and check out our beautiful events space that is now back in (COVID-safe) action! We can provide you with a beautiful warehouse wedding space in the hear of the city, or host that much-needed face to face corporate meeting or strategy day (COVID safe, of course!)
  • Shop: TFH’s online store and cafe in Waterloo, Sydney has ethically sourced products from tea, to candles, to coffee and wine. Each product has been carefully selected and checked for risk of modern slavery in their supply chain. Click here to shop ethically with us this Christmas.
  • Give: Of course, if you are in a position to, you can always provide financial support by making a tax deductible donation to fund our programs and services

If you’re an employee, think about whether your employer facilitates workplace giving. If you’re an employer, ask us how it works!

 

Other ways to Partner or Get Involved

 

  • Volunteer: Are you looking for somewhere you can use your skills and expertise to fight for something with purpose? Do you have a team of special people who can help us with innovative solutions to organisational challenges? Do you have a team of keen beans who would like to get their hands dirty with a hands-on team volunteering day at our Freedom Hub Café? Contact us here to find our more.
  • Fundraise: Get your friends, colleagues or team together and run an event for TFH. We welcome any and all ideas, but check out our High Tea For Humanity on the 10th December, (UN Human Rights Day). We are asking people to run a ‘High Tea for Humanity’ in their homes or at work. Or if you live in Sydney you can host your end-of-year celebrations at our High Tea. Click here for info.

 

Written by: Jane Andrews

Pic by: @christianwinklercreative

 

Partner in our Community

Help raise awareness and join a local volunteer team, contact us here.

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If you would like to support a survivor, donate here. (tax-deductible)