The CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, Sophie Otiende, advocates for a survivor-led environment, enabling those with lived experience to have space, use their voice and become leaders in tackling modern slavery.
Sophie was trafficked as a child and is herself a survivor-leader; she knows what it feels like to be in a policy discussion where she’s the only person in the room who’s actually experienced human trafficking and to realise that the others in that room are observers of this problem.
At the Fund, they have developed a unique toolkit to help organisations understand themselves better and develop a roadmap enabling them to bring survivors into decision-making leadership positions. You can’t just tell people that something is wrong. You need to provide them with tools and roadmaps that lead to the meaningful inclusion of those who have lived experience.
There are many facets to this, from being mindful of the language that is used so that it’s accessible to everyone – not just policymakers or academics – to appreciating the power dynamics between funders and beneficiaries. Oftentimes, beneficiaries feel a sense of indignity and struggle to find their voice and make their views known.
In the past, most of the leaders tackling modern slavery have not had lived experience, which means most policies and programmes were defined by people who observe the problem but haven’t actually experienced it. Lived experience provides a unique vantage point that leads to different priorities and a unique understanding.
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