Preventing human trafficking through economic empowerment

Presentation at Injaz in Amman, Jordan
Presentation at Injaz in Amman, Jordan

While I was in Jordan on the TechWomen trip I heard from a number of organizations working to widen different sections of the Jordanian economic pipeline. Injaz, which helps school children and college students learn entrepreneurial and office skills, Oasis500 which helps entrepreneurs get their start-ups off the ground, TechWomen itself, helping professional women in STEM grow and lead in their careers.

I kept thinking about my day job, about the reasons why someone ends up being labor or sex trafficked. A lot of folks end up in trafficking situations because of love or family–pimps use affection like abusive husbands do, to control and gaslight, and some labor traffickers who traffic nannies or maids rely on them forming relationships with their abuser’s children to keep them in line.

But economic push factors are another major reason people seek out the risky situations which can so often become human trafficking.

Workers without options at home, with families needing feeding or ambitions that are not supported by their home economies, are vulnerable to being tricked into a trafficking situation. People who’s homelands cannot provide them with the chance to compete for a job will seek other places for work, and if they cannot do so legally, they may do so illegally.

In Jordan, 65% of college graduates do not have a job within a year of graduation. Only 11% of people with jobs in Jordan are women. And even those who get jobs, and those who can keep them, face an economy without much money–Jordan has one of the lowest GDPs in the region.

The programs I learned about this week are working to resolve exactly those endangering factors. Graduates of Injaz are more than 2x as likely to find a job within a year of graduating college than non-graduates (87% of them get jobs). Oasis500 told us 21% of tech jobs are held by women–nearly double the national average. The kind of networking that TechWomen provides, and the kind of contacts it generates, can help increase investment, both foreign and domestic.

Ending human trafficking is about more than punishing traffickers and caring for survivors; we need to choke off the pipeline of vulnerable people traffickers exploit by redirecting them into more vibrant and viable economies.

Inspirational Quote:

“I traveled the banks of the River of Jordan To find where it flows to the sea I looked in the eyes of the cold and the hungry And I saw I was looking at me.”–Peter, Paul and Mary

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