On 22-26 September, more than 120 participants from 40 countries around the world gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, for the Intentional Members' Congress (IMC) hosted by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women International Secretariat. Together members of the Alliance, as well as partners and friends, celebrated GAATW's 20th anniversary, shared collective successes and setbacks in the realisation of the rights of trafficked and migrant workers, and began planning for the future.
Participants discussed topics on three themes: women, migration and work; funding for anti-trafficking efforts; and accountability in anti-trafficking work.
A special anniversary video message was deliverd by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the new UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, where she highlighted that access to justice and remedies are crucial in regaining freedom and ownership over the lives of victims. She also called on different stakeholders to join forces in order to address trafficking in persons. And to commemorate the journey of the Alliance, GAATW-IS prepared a short film called 'GAATW@20'.
Throughout the IMC, many fruitful discussions centred on: international/regional advocacy opportunities; understanding trafficking in persons through a range of frameworks including human rights, women's rights, migrants' rights, labour rights, and development; recognising domestic work as work covered by labour laws; and challenging the 'end demand' agenda and decriminalising sex work. We also looked at our focus on accountability, and presented early findings from our research project looking at trafficked people's perspectives on anti-trafficking services and initiatives.
Alliance members discussed new opportunities for regional and origin-destination collaborations. For example, this was the first IMC where members and allies connected with migrant support groups from the Middle East. One of the sessions highlighted the need to work more with trade unions, including to strengthen self-organised groups; expanding our work on migrant rights to involve labour rights; and looking beyond GAATW's focus on women to consider others who are trafficked - such as men, LGBTI people and indigenous peoples. The launch of issue 3 of the Anti-Trafficking Review also prompted us to think about how we can ensure greater transparency on the impact of anti-trafficking money.
One of the most important outcomes was a call for continuing collaboration - within the Alliance and with external partners - and for relationship building between NGOs and donors.
All these useful discussions will inform GAATW's strategy in the future. GAATW-IS would like to thank all Steering Committee Members, the International Board and all the participants who made this year's IMC such a memorable and successful event.