Over the past three years, the world has faced an unprecedented global pandemic, devastating natural disasters brought on by the climate crisis, and ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, West Africa and elsewhere. With so much uncertainty, it comes as no surprise that the number of people worldwide living under conditions of modern slavery increased to 50 million according to the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery—10 million more than in 2017.
Against this challenging backdrop, the Freedom Fund and our partners continue to work to end modern slavery by shifting power to the most vulnerable people and elevating their voices, needs and leadership. We are proud to share the results of our work in our latest Impact Report, published today.
Since our founding nine years ago, Freedom Fund partners have directly helped over 1.5 million people living in slavery or at high risk of exploitation. Millions more have been impacted by our efforts to shift government policy, corporate behaviour and social norms.
Our partners are leading the way, backed by a group of visionary funders committed to transformative impact. Donor support has enabled the Freedom Fund to invest in 128 frontline organisations working tirelessly to protect marginalised people and communities, liberate and support survivors of modern slavery, and prosecute those responsible. By building the resilience of our partners and fostering the leadership of survivors, women and communities most affected by exploitation, we aim to cultivate a more powerful, diverse and sustainable anti-slavery movement.
While this approach can be slow and difficult, we have seen first-hand how it can lead to sweeping changes for entire communities. This was evident in July 2022 when the Government of Nepal announced the liberation of the Harawa-Charawa, a community of approximately 120,000 adults and children living in a form of bonded labour that is often passed down through generations. This milestone affirmed the importance of the Freedom Fund’s six-year investment in the frontline groups leading this advocacy, including supporting the growth of the survivor-led Harawa-Charawa Network.
There are more reasons for optimism. Today there is much greater awareness of modern slavery resulting in more research, investigations and legislation. We are beginning to see real progress in efforts to ensure companies eliminate forced labour from their supply chains.
Real lasting change is going to take bold action by frontline leaders, donors, governments and a whole host of collaborators. We believe that a world free of slavery is possible, and we hope you’ll join us in making this vision a reality.
Photo: Participants in the Harawa-Charawa human rights caravan in Nepal in April 2023. Credit: Filmatory Nepal / The Freedom Fund