By Marta Guglielmetti
Global Solidarity Fund
The Global Solidarity Fund (GSF) is proud to support the important new Call to Action to end human trafficking from the Talitha Kum network of Catholic Sisters.
GSF was created out of a conviction that solving the world’s most difficult challenges requires people of good will to work together – in solidarity. The big problems our world faces cannot be solved by working in silos. That’s why GSF has taken on the role of a catalyst for partnerships to create a more inclusive society and to protect our common home.
Human trafficking is one of the global-scale challenges that demands a collaborative approach. All over the world, an estimated 50,000 people each year are coerced or lured by false promises, recruited and moved to a new location, and subjected to labor or sexual exploitation. Human traffickers prey on vulnerable people, taking advantage of their desire for a decent life by robbing them of their human dignity.
As GSF has learned from our work on care for the earth, climate change is now a growing driver of human trafficking, as desperate people seek opportunities for a sustainable livelihood.
Anyone can become a victim of trafficking. But the United Nations estimates that over 70% of trafficked people, and over 90% of sex trafficking victims, are female. Women and girls face special vulnerability to trafficking, driven by persistent inequalities.
Thus it is timely to focus on human trafficking as we work to end gender-based violence. The good news is that many women have become leaders in the movement to bring together wide-ranging partners to end trafficking globally. Among the most important leaders are GSF’s partners at the Talitha Kum network.
Talitha Kum coordinates anti-trafficking efforts of Catholic Sisters in 90 countries. It was established in 2009 at the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the global network of over 700,000 Sisters, and now extends around the world. Sr. Gabriella Bottani provides strong leadership as its international coordinator.
Part of what has made Talitha Kum such a compelling partner for GSFis the Sisters’ ability to combine values with action. Inspired and informed by the grassroots engagement of Sisters, Talitha Kum has a uniquely person- and community-centered approach, as its members accompany survivors and work for prevention of trafficking. In addition, its members advocate for systemic change at local, national and global levels, in collaboration with survivors, organizations in the private sector, governments, NGOs and civil society.
The launch of the Call to Action on November 25 was a breakthrough moment in showing the leading and essential role of Sisters in the action against human trafficking and another step forward to end this unacceptable tragedy.
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, recognized “the unique contribution and proposal that the network of Talitha Kum hopes to offer through its Call to Action”:
It is a prophetic voice that the world rightfully needs to hear. If heeded, it will bring necessary change to the way in which the international community, including at the local level, responds to the scourge of modern slavery.
Crafted by the global network of Sisters in just this prophetic way, the Call to Action provides actionable, concrete steps the global community can take to end human trafficking forever. The document details important actions that governments and others can take in the following areas:
- Ensuring access to justice and long-term,
state-supported psychosocial and health assistance, as well as work and residence permits for victims in destination countries
- Empowering women and girls, as well as their families and communities
- Supporting safe and legal migration pathways, including in cases of forced displacement
- Promoting an economy of care and solidarity
The broad participation from varied stakeholders, all united in solidarity, that gathered in the UISG headquarters in Rome for the launch of the Call to Action reconfirmed the importance of this remarkable moment. (For those who weren’t able to join the event live, you can view it here.)
Leaders who offered supportive reflections on the Call to Action at the event included, among others:
- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State
- Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking
- Dr. Azza Karam of Religions for Peace International
- Amb. Pietro Sebastiani, Italy’s Ambassador to the Holy See
- Laurence Hart of the International Organization on Migration (IOM)
- Sr. Angela Reed, Head of Mercy International
- Sisters Jolanta Kafka and Patricia Murray of UISG
Talitha Kum’s international coordinators, Sr. Abby Avellino, Sr. Carmen Ugarte Garcia, Sr. Gabriella Bottani, Sr. Maria Luisi Puglisi and Sr. Yvonne Bambara, shared their experiences in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, where economic crises, wars and migration fuel exploitation of the most vulnerable, especially women and girls.
Other notable participants included: Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication; Francesca di Giovanni, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State; the Ambassadors and delegates of 10 Embassies to the Holy See (Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, UK); and representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO).
As we move into 2022, the Global Solidarity Fund, with its networks drawn from business, philanthropic, development, and faith communities, will continue to support the extraordinary work of Talitha Kum to stop human trafficking. Join us in supporting Talitha Kum’s Call to Action, and the leadership of its network of Sisters!