International Women’s Day is described as, “A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.”
Together, we celebrate the efforts and achievements of the strong women and girls in our midst.
Women face unique challenges throughout the world and are constantly overcoming them. Behind each woman’s achievement are large obstacles, usually a few failures and, most importantly, a determined endurance. To fully celebrate a woman’s achievement, we must listen to her journey.
A survivor’s journey
When our teams in Thailand, Cambodia or undisclosed locations celebrate a survivor’s graduation, they aren’t just excited about the certificate she’s holding during the centre-stage photo op.
Their life after rescue is not easy. Sometimes they make steps backward instead of increments of progress. Even when a survivor is struggling or making choices that are hard to support, she is valued and loved. There are still victories to celebrate even as she faces difficulties.
As a girl graduates our program, our team members cheer for her achievement because they remember the day she raised her hand in class and spoke for the first time. They celebrate the time she made a tough choice and how she persisted even when her studies became difficult. They are proud of the way her shoulders are squared and her smile is broad in contrast to the stoop and tight lips from week one. She is celebrated for who she is and the steps she is taking as the colour returns to her life.
An agent’s journey
In Nepal, our frontline rescue agents are all Nepali women. Because of their determination, over 4000 interviews have been conducted at Nepal border crossings since the beginning of the year and 112 women and girls have been rescued! Some of these agents are survivors themselves, stepping into these roles to help other women avoid or navigate difficulties similar to their own pasts.
Rescue work for these women is not easy. Most victims lie to them initially, using fabricated travel stories as instructed by their trafficker. In each case, agents use their training and expertise to remain focused on validating the information provided and extracting the truth.
A social worker’s journey
Our case worker or social worker’s efforts to help survivors are a journey that begins sometimes even before rescue. In the Philippines, female social workers are involved in a case long before a raid happens by preparing enough dignity packs for the expected number of survivors and coordinating legal documents.
In Nepal, during routine follow-up calls with survivors, our female social worker utilises her gifts in building trust and encouraging others. Her calls go beyond safety checks as she is able to get survivors, who are normally guarded, to open up about their lives.
These valuable reintegration staff members’ achievements are not measured by the check marks on their task lists at the end of a week. The love and care that they breathe into their work is a continual series of achievements to celebrate.
By celebrating women’s achievements as whole journeys we can join in today’s call to action to also accelerate women’s equality.
You can celebrate our own journey and the achievements that come into fruition along the way. Recogniing how the pieces of your journey add up to the whole, helps yourself and others see the diversity, strength and human value of women.
To the world:
Accelerating women’s equality means accelerating the rate at which everyone can see, honour and treat women as fellow human beings. By reflecting on the journey and achievements of a woman – immersing yourself in her experience to understand her story – one can better relate to her as a person who has value equal to themselves.
The women of Destiny Rescue
Every day, strong women fight on behalf of Destiny Rescue and bring freedom, counselling, friendship, education and support to survivors of sex trafficking around the world.
These women listen as girls open up and share their lives, they travel for miles to speak on the issue of human trafficking, they manage our residential homes caring for survivors as their own daughters, they plan events that raise thousands of dollars, they manage paperwork to ensure a survivor’s testimony is ready for a court case, they fill out spreadsheets and balance the books to keep our projects running, and they give financially to support the rescue of the next child.
Our mission, to rescue children from sex trafficking and help them stay free, is impossible without women. It’s our privilege to take this opportunity to celebrate each woman in our family and her journey as she fights relentlessly for freedom.