January 13, 2023

Undocumented survivors of labor trafficking face chronic stigmas for being undocumented and therefore often lack access to tailored support. On Friday, January 13th, 2023, Womankind’s tenth annual anti-human trafficking conference sought not just to reflect on this reality but also work towards a solution by asking the question: How do we turn these obstacles into opportunities?

The first half of the conference was comprised entirely of professionals who experienced and survived labor trafficking. They shared practical insights for other survivors by discussing topics ranging from money management to surrounding themselves with good and reliable friends to the importance of speaking up and knowing the specific laws that empower them with rights in the U.S., even as they await the outcome of a T visa application. In their own ways, each speaker mentioned the importance of treating all survivors as human beings and with dignity.

During the second half, two executive directors focused on strategies in finding financial resources for undocumented survivors. They specifically shared processes and learning moments from the respective projects they helped to develop. Both executive directors emphasized the need to reduce the complications of eligibilities for survivors, increasing accessibility to direct financial assistance and ensuring transparency regarding funds distribution. They also discussed aspects of the national landscape and strategies necessary to sustain funding momentums.

While challenges are often discussed, opportunities and ways to swim forward are less often celebrated. We thank all individuals who participated in this event for all of their insights which we will carry forward into the next decade of these conferences. Thank you to our sponsor, EMCOR, for their continued generosity in supporting Womankind's work with survivors of human trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

Panel Speakers

Jean Bruggeman, Executive Director, Freedom Network USA
Sar H., Survivor Advocate
Sheng Lin, Advocate, Womankind (Moderator)
Susana Liu-Hedberg, Executive Director, The 1990 Institute
Heidi Park, Advocate, Womankind (Moderator)
Ireen Purugganan, Life Coach and Mentor
Agueda 'Aida' Venturanza, Certified Anti-trafficking Consultant with the U.S. Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights, Washington, D.C.