UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women Conference



The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against women is the only global grant-making mechanism exclusively dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls globally. Focusing on preventing violence, implementing laws and policies and improving access to vital services for survivors, the UN Trust Fund invests in life-changing programmes for millions of women and girls. From India to Guatemala to Zimbabwe, our grantees are currently changing lives in 80 countries and territories globally. The UN Trust Fund is managed by UN Women on behalf of the UN System.

The UN Trust Fund has supported 16 projects aimed at ending human trafficking, implemented by civil society organizations worldwide.



Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) has been exacerbated in Madagascar by economic and political crises, with an aggravated impact on women and girls. Common forms of CSEC include the coercion of  minors into sex work, tourism-related sexual exploitation, trafficking and cyber pornography. While the Madagascan Government has put in place a range of legislation to address the sexual exploitation of girls, there is not yet a national action plan nor institutions which are strong enough to oversee the implementation of existing laws.

The project, funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, operates in two inland cities and six coastal cities and aims to reduce economic and social inequalities between men and women, reduce the risk of sexual exploitation, offer economic empowerment opportunities and care for survivors, strengthen communities in their resistance to child sexual exploitation, mobilize communities (including men and boys) and promote gender equality. The project works to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of girls and provides support and increased access to justice to survivors. ECPACT holds sensitization activities, school-based training for boys and girls and direct service provision.



ASTRA in Serbia, with funding from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is working with women and girls whose lives are clear illustrations of how violation of the right to non-discrimination is a gateway to other human rights violations.

ASTRA, working with the State Centre for Human Trafficking Victims’ Protection, implemented a project to establish referral procedures for victims of trafficking, many of whom are underage and from the Roma minority, a group which has long faced discrimination. Most of the 8,130 calls received by ASTRA during the two years of project implementation were directly related to human trafficking. In that same period, ASTRA identified 26 victims of human trafficking who had been subjected to labour exploitation, sexual exploitation or forced marriage.

During 2017, over 438 different assistance interventions were provided to ASTRA’s clients, including support for 30 potential victims. Almost all beneficiaries stated that the biggest change they experienced as a result of ASTRA’s work is that they feel much safer because they know they are not alone and can get support when they need it most.


A one-day conference at UN Women’s Headquarters in New York on 9 March 2018 discussed and agreed on collaborative modalities to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery.* Co-hosted by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) and the UK-based Shiva Foundation, the event brought together the hospitality industry, the private sector, civil society, Government representatives and the UN to design joint efforts to end this human rights violation.

The conference, which was held in the lead up to the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, presented and distributed resources that show how hotels and private sector industries can help curb human trafficking. Often unwitting venues for victims of sexual and labor exploitation, the hotel and hospitality industry are utilized for their anonymity. Participants in the event explored the many ramifications of trafficking including the continuum of violence against women in different forms and during different stages of life, as well as the gender dimensions of this pervasive form of organized crime where 71% of victims are women.

Topics discussed at the conference included:

    • how to implement survivor-centered approaches from service delivery to decision-making about adequate solutions;
    • leveraging the purchasing power of private companies to end and prevent human trafficking;
    • effective use of technology towards the goal of ending and preventing human trafficking; and
    • moving from a corporate social responsibility approach towards a more holistic model for companies to effectively contribute to end human trafficking.

Aldijana Sisic, the Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, added:

“To end human trafficking we need meaningful policies and global best practices that are rigorously implemented through joint efforts of public, private, civil society sectors and the UN […] Today’s event aims to create a dialogue and share resources to end human trafficking. The UN Trust Fund awards grants to prevent and end all forms of violence against women, and as women and girls are the vast majority of human trafficking victims, the work of its grantees complement these efforts to tackle human trafficking.” 

Marija Andjelkovic, Executive Director of ASTRA, the Serbia-based NGO that focuses on anti-trafficking and is a UN Trust Fund grantee, said:

“Anti-trafficking is not only [about] implementing projects, awareness raising campaigns or helping persons who survived trafficking. It is also – even more importantly – building a world where human trafficking is not possible.”

During the conference, Shiva Foundation, established by the Shiva Hotels group, presented its model for tackling human trafficking. This includes urging hotels to work collaboratively on this issue; using the industry’s collective purchasing power to change supply chains; and demanding stronger action from labour market regulators.

Collaboration across sectors brought insights and perspectives from private sector participants such as Mars Inc, Estee Lauder and Hilton Worldwide, as well as Foundations, and civil society. Carolina Henriquez-Schmitz, Regional Lead and Legal Manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation said:

“The Thomson Reuters Foundation is committed to convening diverse stakeholders to take action and forge tangible commitments to fight trafficking, empower women, and advance human rights worldwide. We are delighted to be part of this conference and to continue exploring how different sectors can work collaboratively to find effective and innovative solutions to tackle slavery.”

The event made clear that in order to end the exploitation of women and girls, the inspiring work of UN Trust Fund grantees such as ASTRA must be complemented by meaningful policies and global standards that are rigorously implemented by governments and businesses. This is particularly true for human trafficking, where business decisions about labour standards and sourcing can have an impact on women’s lives around the world. The collaborative efforts and joint actions of the public and private sectors, civil society and the UN to end human trafficking discussed during this day-long conference will serve as a catalysing force paving the way towards a brighter future free from violence against women and girls.

*The UN Trust Fund uses the term ‘human trafficking’ as defined in the Palermo Protocol; Shiva Foundation primarily uses the term ‘modern slavery’. Both terms were used during the conference.

untf.unwomen.org | #UNTF | @UNTrustFundEVAW

What do you think?