It’s fitting that as the month of December ends, a month where we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the month of January is beginning, a month recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
The UDHR did a lot to create a new standard for how governments would honor the rights of people and populations. And that included the explicit prohibition of any slavery or servitude: “slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Unfortunately, the hope of a world without slavery or servitude is yet to be realized. That includes the tens of thousands of young women and girls in the United States who are trafficked into sex slavery and exploitation. Or, for that matter, the millions of women who are trafficked as sex slaves globally.
The Junior League relies on certain barometers to determine how level the playing field is for women. Are women paid the same or comparably as their male counterparts for similar work? Are women given the same chance as their male colleagues for professional leadership opportunities. Are the interests of women appropriately considered by policymakers and lawmakers as they create public policy and legislation? But one of the most important and most powerful barometers is the simple fact that child sex trafficking is taking place, and that girls are the unfortunate commodity in the majority of circumstances. So long as this exists, the playing field can never be truly level.
That is why AJLI takes so much pride in launching the ABOLISH Movement—our global effort to bring awareness to, combat and play a role in ending child sex trafficking. This is a movement that is in its early stages, but we will put in the work to grow it out. That is the very least you can expect from The Junior League.
But what we can hope from you? We can hope that you will start thinking about how you can be a part of the solution for ending child sex trafficking. We can hope that you will take the time to educate yourself and others on this important issue, even if the subject matter is difficult to face. We can hope that you will have a conversation with yourself about what you can do to be a change agent in this space. And we can hope that you will support the ABOLISH Movement in any way you can.
Making the vision of the UDHR a reality, and leveling the playing field for women, are missions that are still in front of us. We can’t achieve those missions without bringing child sex trafficking to its extinction. Let’s do this together.