A platform to share learning for the fight against modern slavery
By Dr Zoë Fortune
Modern slavery includes human trafficking or forced labour, but can also refer to the slavery-like practices that include debt-bondage, forced or servile marriage and the sale or exploitation of children. Estimates put the global figure at around 35.8 million – on a par with those currently living with HIV/AIDS – but today’s slaves are often hidden, and trapped in fishing fleets and sweatshops, mines and brothels, and in fields and plantations around the world.
The Freedom Fund is a new philanthropic initiative designed to bring much-needed financial resources and strategic focus to the fight against modern slavery. Our work is primarily grounded on the frontlines, working with community-based organisations in slavery ‘hotspots’ to drive societal changes and achieve sustainable impact. But we also focus on systemic issues, such as mental health or strategic litigation and support the anti-slavery movement – creating and providing tools, knowledge and platforms so that organisations in the field can work together more effectively. We are therefore both funder and implementer with a key focus on research to understand our impact.
As implementers, we need to know what works, in what context and for whom. As donors, we need to know how to scale and replicate those successful models. And ultimately, we need to learn from that knowledge and share it.
In September of this year, we launched the Slavery Research Bulletin – a monthly update on new and interesting research from the anti-slavery community. And in November, we launched the Slavery Research Library. The concept for the library is simple – we upload new research from different sources around the world into a freely accessible and searchable database (and invite others to do the same) – housing a literal knowledge base of both peer-reviewed and grey literature alike. The idea is hardly new – but we see it as very important for a field which is fast evolving. We hope the library is one method to connect stakeholders with academics and others in the field and ensure knowledge and learning is shared and built upon. Please see here for more details and to get involved.
Dr Zoë Fortune is the Senior Research & Evaluation Officer at the Freedom Fund