Plight of female migrant women highlighted in annual campaign

30 Nov 2023

By The Record

ACRATH Executive Officer Christine Carolan with Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro. Photo: Supplied.

The Australian Embassy to the Holy See has this month joined Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) for the launch of its 16 Days of Activism, focussing on women migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation.

The campaign commenced on November 25 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

ACRATH Executive Officer Christine Carolan, who is in Rome and met with Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, said the social justice challenge is global.

“Vulnerable workers are on the move right across the planet,” Ms Carolan and Ms Porro said.

“So global solutions must be sought, and global justice-focused alliances must be built and strengthened,” they said.

Ms Carolan continued by highlighting that it is estimated migrant workers were three times more likely to be in forced labour than non-migrant workers.

Ms Porro said she hoped that through the campaign, the faces of these vulnerable workers will become visible.

“More and more women are leaving their communities and their countries to find work to support themselves and their families,” Ms Porro said.

“These women are often vulnerable and extremely at risk of exploitation and violence.

“Catholic entities, such as ACRATH, work in source countries to raise awareness and identify needs, as well as in receiving countries to support the migrant workers directly or the communities who host them.

“There is an urgent need to raise awareness of this issue and to reaffirm our support for the dignity of all human beings,” Ms Porro continued.

ACRATH has developed a calendar of events, resources and stories, to mark days through the campaign, which ends on December 10, Human Rights Day.

The campaign will be presented at an event hosted by women Ambassadors to the Holy See at Villa Bonaparte, the French Embassy to the Holy See, on 1 December 2023.

“Catholic entities are making an important contribution on the prevention of labour exploitation and violence against women in the migrant worker context. Pope Francis has been extremely vocal about the need to protect the most vulnerable, including those who are seeking better lives elsewhere. His calls to protect migrants, describing it “as a duty of civilization”, and to combat the “globalization of indifference”, have underlined the urgency of addressing this growing global challenge,” Ms Porro continued.

Ms Carolan echoed Ms Porro’s words by saying that in 2023 there are so many people on the move across our planet seeking work in another country and many are women.

“Other women stay behind with their children and elderly parents while their partners leave home to work overseas; all are attempting to make a living to support their families in any way they can.”

The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report published in 2021 said that an estimated 50 million people were living in situations of modern slavery on any given day in 2021.

The most vulnerable — women, children, and migrants — remain disproportionately affected.

More than 12 million of all people in modern slavery are children, and women and girls account for over half of them (54 per cent.

The report found that while labour migration has a largely positive effect on individuals, households, communities and societies, this finding demonstrates how migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour and trafficking, whether because of irregular or poorly governed migration, or unfair and unethical recruitment practices.