The need for more women leaders and a stronger political commitment by states to combat trafficking in human beings was highlighted at an OSCE event “Political leadership: Who can speak for the victims of trafficking?”, held on 15 May 2012 in Warsaw.
“Making sure women’s voices are actually heard is best done by ensuring adequate women’s representation in politics,” said Ajla van Heel, a Gender Officer at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
“Women are still the majority of the victims of trafficking, yet few are represented in government,” said Mariana Katzarova, ODIHR’s Senior Adviser on Anti-Trafficking Issues. “Political leaders, men and women, should push for laws, policies and strategies that will help prevent human exploitation."
The event was organized by ODIHR on the margins of a three-day meeting on strengthening the rule of law in combating trafficking in human beings.
State officials, representatives of international and civil society organizations, anti-trafficking experts and activists dealing with gender equality issues came together to exchange ideas and experiences on the role of women politicians in creating and implementing anti-trafficking policies and advocating for the rights of victims.
Cindy Dyer, Vice-President of the non-governmental organization Vital Voices Global Partnership, added that, while most countries have made considerable efforts to combat human trafficking in recent years, “there is still much to do to place the issue on top of political agendas”.
Marieke van Doorninck, City Councillor in Amsterdam, noted that deeply-rooted stereotypes and corruption still hinder the development of an effective policy to protect victims of trafficking.
Helping ensure the protection of victims of human trafficking and their access to rights, as well as to promote gender equality and greater women’s political participation are two areas in which ODIHR offers assistance to OSCE participating States.