Saturday, December 5, 2020

Recommendations for the U.S. Government 3/3

1. Ensure all global response and recovery efforts comply with the gender analysis and integration requirement of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Actxv (Section 3(c)) by making funds immediately available and directed towards efforts including, but not limited to: 

a. Additional personnel and technical assistance to conduct and integrate gender analyses as defined in Sec 3(c) of the WEEE Act into response and recovery efforts; and 

b. Ensure programs address the different impacts of the crisis on all genders, including on their employment, income, access to social safety nets and financial services, gender-based violence, property rights and security of land tenure, the capability to fully exercise their rights and influence decision-making, access to agricultural extension services and other support, access to education, and other factors affecting women’s and girls’ economic empowerment.

 2. Prioritize the safe and meaningful involvement of women, girls, and other marginalized populations in decision-making processes related to COVID-19 responses, relief delivery, and recovery at all levels. This means proactively ensuring women and girls are included on leadership bodies, and women and girls are actively engaged in developing communityand context-specific responses, and consulted through the various stages of program design, implementation, and evaluation. 

3. Fund and implement programming to address the specific economic impacts on women globally, especially lower income, migrant, and other marginalized women. This support should include the informal and formal sectors, and should expand funding to existing programs for the following: 

a. Maintaining and expanding existing cash transfer and broader subsidy programs, while also removing conditionality linked to girls attending school or families delaying daughters’ marriage, to ensure alreadyvulnerable women, girls, and their households are not driven deeper into poverty as a result of COVID-19; 

b. Supporting women as entrepreneurs and workers through stop-gap financing measures to firms experiencing losses due to COVID-19. Measures should include resources for women entrepreneurs to pivot their businesses to e-commerce, promote remote working, and expand into high-demand markets due to COVID-19, as well as funding for financing and capital to support economic recovery. These efforts must include outreach to women and other marginalized populations to ensure they have meaningful access to financing, capital, and other financial services at the same rate as men; 

c. Prioritizing consumer protection safeguards, especially at microfinance level, to ensure women are not driven into a cycle of debt in response to COVID-19. Where possible, prioritize cash- and savings-led approaches to support very poor populations; 

d. Ensuring supply chains take measures to promote women’s job security in light of the instability resulting from COVID-19 and enact protections to prevent the exploitation of women, girls, and marginalized populations that may be exacerbated under COVID-crisis circumstances. This includes ensuring fair wages, decent work conditions, and other protections are in place for workers both in the workplace as well as those working from home; 

e. Investing in training, skills development, and job placement programs for women to access jobs in industries responsive to COVID-19 (e.g., health care product manufacturing, information and communications technology, and food and accommodations); 

f. Addressing and minimizing disruptions to girls’ education and taking special measures to ensure that girls return to school so that their future economic opportunities are not diminished; g. Investing in technological solutions to promote women’s employment and entrepreneurship during the COVID19 crisis, including funding and skills building to narrow the gender digital divide and increase women’s access to digital tools and platforms; and 4 h. Ensuring any agricultural financial and technical assistance targets women farmers and agricultural workers, including small-scale farms, and promote increased access to labor-saving, women-friendly technology. Provide food assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable populations during this crisis. 

4. Integrate a gender-based violence prevention and mitigation plan as well as ‘Do No Harm’ principles into all COVID-19 emergency response funding and action plans. Funding should be directed to support ongoing gender-based violence programming to increase prevention and to support survivors in the face of likely increases in gender-based violence, such as domestic or intimate partner violence during social distancing and lockdowns or increased rates of child marriage due to economic hardship or other factors. 

5. Allocate funding to ensure that social services such as health, education, and other care-related functions can continue at levels prior to the disease outbreak, anticipating that countries whose economies have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 will not be able to fund social services at the same levels. Debt relief measures and other financing cannot come at the expense of social service expenditure. 

6. Continue and increase support for longer-term initiatives that advance gender-equitable social norms and infrastructure, such as childcare services and programs to support involvement of men and boys in household duties, particularly given their additional time at home under stay-at-home measures, to alleviate women and girls’ disproportionate unpaid care burdens. These measures should also support prevention of gender-based discrimination and violence and promote women’s voice and leadership at all levels. 

7. Require rigorous monitoring, evaluation, and learning, including the use of standard indicators to assess the extent to which U.S. Government strategies, projects, activities, and programs responding to COVID-19 either widen or narrow gender gaps in the economy and more broadly. Prioritize the collection of gender- and age-disaggregated data from foreign assistance programs addressing COVID-19 impacts, and additional accountability mechanisms to ensure implementation.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

COVID-19 and Women’s Economic Empowerment 2/3

Gender-based violence increases in emergencies, impeding women and girls from participating in economic activities. Stress and disruption caused by crises often exacerbate underlying norms that lead to gender-based violence. Sources in China, France, and elsewhere have already reported that cases of domestic violence have increased dramatically during the COVID19 crisis, particularly as a result of necessary stay-at-home measures. As in other types of crises, practices such as child marriage and survival sex rise as negative coping mechanisms. Gender-based violence can prevent women and girls from engaging in economic activities, decrease their productivity, and cede control over earnings to abusers. 
Girls’ education is disrupted by crises more than boys’, with lasting impacts on the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the economy. During crises, girls’ education is likely to be disrupted with school closures. Often, when girls are removed from school, they take on additional caregiving responsibilities, domestic labor, or other income-generating activities outside the home instead of continuing their learning. In areas where social norms lead to greater disparities between girls and boys in enrollment and retention in school, temporary disruption as a result of a crisis such as COVID-19 can lead to permanent removal from school. Families being unable to pay school fees resulting from loss of income during the crisis, negative coping mechanisms such as child marriage, or the loss of educational infrastructure such as girls’ peer networks and teachers are prominent concerns. xi This has long-term negative impacts on girls’ access to opportunities and resources to improve their lives and ultimately, on their educational, economic, and health outcomes. 

Unequal laws or practices regarding inheritance and property ownership regulations have an acute impact on women and girls during crises. Under international human rights law, women and men are entitled to equal legal protection of their property rights, including in inheritance and succession. However, with the rising number of deaths as a result of COVID19, many widows, daughters and divorced women are either barred from or cannot in practice claim their ownership rights in the case of death or dissolution of marriage. Social norms and harmful traditional practices around widowhood can also impede transfer or ownership of land. Women seeking to enforce their rights can face heightened risks, particularly when court systems are shuttered during a crisis such as COVID-19. 

Gender wage gaps across roles and sectors can negatively affect women’s ability to purchase necessities and engage in COVID19 prevention and response efforts. Globally women earn 24% less than men do, with women’s wages being lower than men’s and women experiencing wage gaps for both identical roles and different occupations of equal value.xii Lower pay means many women will have reduced ability to purchase necessary supplies needed to engage in preventative activities around COVID-19, purchase household necessities, or access crucial healthcare services – especially when access to affordable health services is already limited. 

The gender digital divide will negatively affect women’s ability to receive vital support and services or adapt businesses or roles as employees to social distancing constraints. On average, women are 14% less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts and 43% less likely to engage online.xiii This will result in women's inability to access critical cash transfers and other financial services via digital platforms currently being prioritized by governments in light of social distancing measures. The digital divide can also lead to challenges for women to engage in distance learning, for women entrepreneurs to transition to e-commerce platforms and opportunities, and women employees to engage in remote work necessary to maintain their jobs. Additionally, the digital gender gap will impact girls’ remote learning opportunities, while those who do connect online face increased risks of online harassment, abuse, and sexual exploitation. 

Resources diverted from existing services during this crisis will negatively impact women’s health, raising economic implications. To respond to urgent health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, resources will be diverted away from ongoing programs supporting lifesaving health services. Additionally, access to services are hindered by overwhelmed health systems. This is compounded by women’s loss of income leading to decreased ability to access available health care. These factors impede women and girls from achieving the highest possible standard of care. xiv At a time when chronic and non-COVID related health concerns persist, this will have strong implications for women’s and girls’ health and well-being, particularly on those with underlying medical conditions such as the elderly and persons living with disabilities. Poor health is inextricably tied to women’s and girls’ ability to participate in economic activity and puts further strain on already overburdened infrastructure.

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Monday, November 30, 2020

COVID-19 and Women’s Economic Empowerment 1/3

 COVID-19 and Women’s Economic Empowerment The current COVID-19 crisis deeply impacts women, men, girls, boys and other genders differently. While men make up the majority of those who have died from the virus, women and girls bear the brunt of disproportionate care burdens, disruptions in income and education, poor access to health and other essential services, greater risk of being dispossessed of land and property, and gender digital and pay gaps. For women already living in poverty, these impacts can be a shock to their economic stability overall and impede their ability to purchase critical necessities, such as medicine and food. 
The COVID-19 crisis will have significant implications for U.S. investments in global women’s economic empowerment, including the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative, the Development Finance Corporation’s 2X Women’s initiative, and U.S. investment in the Women Entrepreneurs Financing Initiative (We-Fi). The gender and social norm manifestations of COVID-19 present an urgent need for governments, businesses, community leaders, and decisionmakers to act. 

Women’s employment in the health sector disproportionately exposes them to COVID-19. Women comprise about 70% of global health care workers and are front and center to exposure to COVID-19 and stigma within their communities for working near COVID patients. i Additionally, the gender pay gap in the global health workforce is 11%; lower pay means decreased ability to purchase necessary supplies or access care. ii The undervaluing of women’s work hurts women and healthcare systems, and under-investment holds systems back from preparedness in times of crisis.iii 

Unemployment and women’s overrepresentation in the informal sector heightens their vulnerabilities during crises. The International Labor Organization estimates that 195 million jobs could be eliminated globally due to the pandemic,iv with a majority in sectors predominated by women. v Furthermore, over 740 million women around the world work in the informal sector and as low-wage workers, vi employment that is vulnerable to elimination due to COVID-19 and which often lacks protections against exploitation and harassment. Migrant women working in non-essential service industries such as food service and hospitality and domestic workers in predominantly female-heavy sectors (e.g., housekeeping, childcare) are particularly vulnerable to being laid off or exploited for their labor during COVID-19. Furthermore, the 26% gender gap in labor force participationvii now seems to be widening further and the U.S. Department of Labor reported in April 2020 that women held 60% of the 700k jobs that have been eliminated in the U.S. so far due to COVID-19. 

Women and adolescent girls take on disproportionate care burdens with negative impacts on their economic empowerment. Due to social norms, women already perform 76.2% of the total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men.viii During public health crises such as COVID-19, care burdens dramatically increase to include caring for the sick, vulnerable elderly family members, and children who are home due to school closures. ix This not only exposes women and girls to contracting the virus from infected family members, but also reduces time spent on generating an income, operating a business, or other economic activity. 

The disproportionate impacts on women due to COVID-19 threatens the stability of food security in the developing world. Women comprise on average 43% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries and are estimated to account for two-thirds of the world’s 600 million poor livestock keepers. x Limits to global food supply could require countries to focus on domestic production, which puts women at a greater economic disadvantage as their land rights are already less secure globally. Additionally, this will likely increase the risk of violence and exploitation by male sharecroppers and credit services in countries where social norms restrict women from harvesting the land they own. If field laborers are not able to travel to farms to assist in planting, weeding, and harvesting, this could lead to increased labor demands for women and girls, which compound already high household care burdens. In addition, many women sell agricultural products in local and informal markets; as markets close due to the COVID-19 crisis, women will experience further losses in income.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

VII. Recommendations 7/7


          A.     Addressing the root causes of trafficking in women and girls

47.    States parties must work towards mobilization of public resources and strengthening of public services in areas that support achievement of gender equality, promotion of women’s and girls’ human rights and their sustainable development in order to reduce the risk of factors leading to trafficking. Full achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is essential to address the factors that heighten the risks of trafficking, in particular: achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls; promoting peace, justice and strong institutions; reducing inequalities; end poverty in all its forms; ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for women and girls; ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of women and girls of all ages; ensuring decent work and economic participation for women and girls; and promoting climate change measures in gender equality policies.

             (i)     Addressing socio-economic injustice

48.    Ensure women’s and girls’ full, effective and meaningful participation, especially of victims of trafficking, those at risk of trafficking, communities affected by trafficking and/or anti-trafficking measures, in all levels of decision-making and at all stages of efforts to prevent and combat trafficking, in the design of human rights-based gender-sensitive responses, including in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking legislation, policy and programmes, continuing implementation of the Convention and the United Nations Trafficking Protocol and as an essential component of the peace-making, stabilization and reconstruction process in line with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the follow up resolutions.

49.    Adopt a gender-transformative approach in order to dismantle the structural and systemic conditions that deprive women and girls of their fundamental rights, the consequence of which places them in situations of vulnerability to all forms of trafficking and sexual exploitation

50.    Reduce the risk of trafficking by eradicating pervasive and persistent gender inequality resulting in an economic, social, and legal status of women and girls that is lower in comparison than that which is enjoyed by men and boys by adopting economic and public policies that prevent a lack of sustainable livelihood options and basic living standards.

51.    Eliminate social structures which limit women’s autonomy and access to key resources which increases the risk of being lured by promises of a means of escape from impoverished circumstances, including lower access to education and vocational training opportunities, asset and land ownership, access to credit, women’s low participation in decision-making, unequal pay, child/early and forced marriage, pervasiveness of patriarchal gender roles, the concentration of women in insecure and vulnerable work and their lack of decent work opportunities.

52.    Enact legislation to protect women and provide effective assistance to victims of domestic abuse, review family law, address socio-cultural practices, including intra-family arrangements which increase exposure of women and girls to trafficking and sexual exploitation.

53.    Eradicate patriarchal norms and values formalised in legislation, including family laws, which facilitate trafficking for child/early and forced marriage. Measures must be adopted which prevent families from agreeing to the indefinite or temporary “marriage” of their daughter in exchange for financial gains. Take into consideration that so-called “women shortages” due to family planning policies in some countries has exacerbated this situation.

54.    Strengthen implementation of a labour rights framework:

     (a)         Introduce, strengthen and enforce employment legislation designed to protect all women workers, including migrant workers, irrespective of their documentation status, level of skill or the sector in which they work, or whether they are in the formal or informal economy, duration of their employment, and to minimize the opportunities for exploitation by providing very clear protections, including localized living wage requirements, overtime pay, health and safety, social protection, and decent working conditions, equal pay for work of equal value, particularly in unregulated, informal or unmonitored economic sectors that rely on migrant labour;

     (b)         Ensure adequately resourcing, increase the number and strengthen the capacity, mandate and investigative powers of labour inspectors to undertake gender-responsive, safe, ethical and confidential inspections and to systematically recognize and report breaches of labour laws and presumed cases of trafficking in women and girls uncovered during both routine and unscheduled inspections, particularly in highly-feminized sectors and including of migrant workers’ seasonal and informal workplaces and accommodation, agricultural farms, and, where appropriate, private households;

     (c)         Establish firewalls among reporting of presumed trafficking arising from labour inspections, victims’ use of public services, including healthcare services’ or other monitoring mechanisms and immigration and/or criminal law enforcement for illegal labour;

     (d)         Encourage businesses to establish safe and anonymous grievance mechanisms for all workers, in cooperation with workers representatives, that are gender-sensitive, to ensure their labour rights are upheld and can be accessed without fear of retaliation;

     (e)         Enforce adequate legal sanctions against employers engaging in abusive employment and labour practices;

     (f)          Provide assistance and training to businesses to ensure compliance with human rights and labour standards, particularly targeting industries known to be hubs, entry-points or channels for trafficking;

55    Provide special economic and social support to disadvantaged groups of women and girls such as those in extreme rural and urban poverty, stigmatized and racialized groups, sexual abuse survivors and women with disabilities.

            (ii)     Addressing trafficking through promoting a safe migration framework

56. Establish a gender responsive safe migration framework to protect women and girl migrants, including those with an irregular migration status, from violations of their human rights at every stage of migration, by:

     (a)     Supporting increased access to pathways for safe and regular migration and to avoid exploitation, including sexual exploitation, considering the specific needs of women and their children, and ensuring the rights of the migrant populations within these pathways to protected formal employment opportunities, legal pathways to education and vocational training, both in their countries of origin and destination;

     (b)     Facilitating independent attainment of official identification and travel documents for safe passage of women wishing to emigrate without requiring them to obtain permission from a spouse or male guardian;

     (c)         Applying a robust gender analysis to all migration policies and programmes, including those relevant to employment, labour rights, detention, the provision of passports, visas and residence permits, and bilateral and multilateral agreements such as readmission agreements;

     (d)         Increasing access to family reunification with a focus on psychosocial and economic dependency, and in consideration of different types of families;

     (e)         Upholding the rights of children, guaranteeing their right to be heard and considering unaccompanied girls as especially vulnerable and requiring additional protection.

57. In line with the Global Compact on Migration, the Committee encourages States parties to:

     (a)         Participate in regional processes and sign bilateral agreements with destination countries for employment to ensure coordination between States parties to strengthen cooperation on the regulation of working conditions in compliance with international labour and human rights standards which ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of women migrant workers;

     (b)         Ensure that representatives of workers are involved in the development of such agreements;

     (c)         Establish mechanisms in the country of destination to deal with rights violations of women migrant workers during employment, in particular to report exploitation and claim unpaid wages and benefits;

     (d)         Ensure that diplomatic missions, labour and economic attaches and consular officials are trained on responding to cases of trafficked migrant women workers.

58 Ensure that visa schemes do not discriminate against women and facilitate or result in their trafficking:,

     (a)         Remove any restrictions on women’s employment to specific job categories or excluding female-dominated occupations from visa schemes;

     (b)         Repeal requirements for workers to undergo mandatory testing for pregnancy and eliminating deportation on the grounds of pregnancy or diagnosis of HIV;

     (c)         Revise the conditions for granting residence permits to women to mitigate consequences of dependency on their spouses.

59. Regulate and monitor labour recruiters, intermediaries and employment agencies:

     (a)         Support their commitment to move to ethical recruitment measures such as the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative, and Know Before You Go campaigns and services for prospective migrant workers, also involving the consular networks of countries of origin;

     (b)         Establish an enforcement mechanism to ensure that the same contracts are used in the destination country and in workers’ countries of origin;

     (c)         Invalidate contracts where undue pressure was applied to the worker during the process of recruitment;

     (d)         Prosecute and punish their engagement in exploitative recruitment processes, including for acts of violence, coercion, abuse of power, deception or exploitation, such as intentional provision of misleading information and documentation, the confiscation of passports, other identity documents or work permits by any person other than the document holder and law enforcement authorities, the charging of illegal recruitment fees to workers or deposit requirement, or for issuance of visas, passports, transportation tickets or participation in pre-departure trainings.

60. Mitigate risks of dependency and vulnerability of migrant women workers in relation to their employers:

     (a)         End discriminatory conditionalities in recruitment, including the practice of making the migration status of workers conditional on the sponsorship or guardianship of a specific employer, such as “tied visas”;

     (b)         Enforce the right for migrants to seek alternative employers and sectors of employment without seeking their existing employers’ permission or leaving the country;

     (c)     Discontinue the practice of security bond conditions on employers of migrant workers to ensure they ‘control and supervise’ their foreign employee;

     (d)         Ensure that employer-provided accommodation and food are reasonably priced and that costs are not automatically deducted from their pay;

     (e)         Facilitate the inclusion of migrant women workers into the labour market and providing trainings for improving their skills.

           (iii)     Addressing the demand that fosters exploitation and leads to trafficking

61. Discourage the demand that fosters exploitation of prostitution and leads to human trafficking.

62. Implement educational, social or cultural measures aimed at targeting potential users.

63. Prevent and address Trafficking in all business operations, public procurement, and corporate supply chains by:

     (a)     Investigate, prosecute and convict all perpetrators involved in the trafficking of persons, including those on the demand side;

     (b)         Provide, by law, a civil cause of action in both the country of operation and the country of corporation, for workers in global supply chains who suffer harm due to non-fulfilment of mandatory due diligence laws;

     (c)         Encourage businesses and public agencies to ensure that a dedicated regulatory body in which workers and their representatives are represented has the power and resources to proactively investigate and monitor compliance with mandatory due diligence laws and sanction non-compliant entities;

     (d)     Conducting, and/or funding, awareness raising campaigns to inform consumers and customers of products and services that may involve exploitative labour, including unethical recruitment practices and slave labour, and where to report suspicions of criminal activities.

64. Discourage the demand for organ trafficking through effective regulation of altruistic organ matching organizations, addressing, as much as possible, for donor wait times, as well as monitoring of hospitals for illegal transplantations and identification of clandestine makeshift operating rooms; spread awareness of health risks related to trafficked transplant organs.

           (iv)     Addressing trafficking in the context of conflict and humanitarian emergencies

65. Integrate into conflict and disaster-risk reduction, preparedness and response plans, existing and new risk factors of women and girls to trafficking, including sexual exploitation, ensuring they are provided with comprehensive protection and assistance.

66. Address issues of vulnerability that displaced families experience, including economic insecurity, access to quality education and livelihoods and legal identity documentation, stereotypes about gender roles, harmful masculinities and unequal power relations, perceptions about family honour and girls’ protection from being trafficked for sexual purposes.

67.  Prevent trafficking and sexual exploitation in all accommodation facilities for displaced women and girls, including by training facility staff to identify potential victims, and ensuring women’s and girls’ security by establishing single-sex accommodations and facilities, patrolling of police officers, including female officers, ensuring adequate lighting and access to sanitary facilities, and establishing resource centres for women and girls in their vicinity.

68. Adopt a zero tolerance policy on trafficking and sexual exploitation forced labour, slavery, slavery-like practices based on international human rights standards, which addresses groups such as national troops, peacekeeping forces, border police, immigration officials and humanitarian actors and other staff members of international organizations and international civil society organizations.

69. Ensure access to complaint procedures and redress mechanisms in cases of human rights violations.

70. Addressing the gendered impact of international transfers of arms, especially small and illicit arms, including through the ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

            (v)     Addressing the use of digital technology in trafficking

71. Call for responsibility of social media and messaging platform companies for exposure of women and girls to trafficking and sexual exploitation as users of their services. Require that these companies define the relevant controls to mitigate these risks and put in place the appropriate governance structure and procedures which will allow them to be reactive in their response and provide the relevant level of information to the concerned authorities. Require also that companies use their existing capabilities in big data, intelligence artificial and analytics to identify any pattern that could lead to trafficking and identification of the involved parties, including the demand side.

72. States parties should call for the existing digital technology companies to increase transparency. At the same time, States parties should aim to initiate and create, for example as part of the central banks’ systems, platforms for the use of electronic currencies that are based on disclosed user information (beneficial owner, ordering costumer and services or good related to the transactions). Ensure that anti-money laundering laws are effectively implemented in order to disincentivize the use electronic currencies which are based on user anonymity.

73. Initiate proactive identification of production of on-line sexual abuse material during the COVID-19 and afterwards; cooperate with technology companies in creating automated tools to detect online recruitment and identify traffickers; strengthen partnerships between public and private sectors to address pandemic-related increases of this crime.

74. Call for information sharing between digital interactive platforms in order to facilitate international cooperation in combating trafficking and sexual exploitation and assist law enforcement efforts. Improve data collection, ensure that data is up to date and provide reliable information sharing.

           (vi)     Awareness-raising

75. Provide accurate information to members of the public particularly targeting women and girls in situations of disadvantage, those living in remote and border areas and those en route or in a destination context, about their rights and the means and motivation to avoid human traffickers, including through evidence-informed, accessible communication campaigns based on a clear understanding of community risk factors and the barriers faced by community members in protecting themselves and others from trafficking, particularly in the context of migration, so they can identify and report potential traffickers and access service providers when they feel vulnerable to trafficking or exploitation.

           B.     Upholding victims’ rights

             (i)     Victim identification

76. Address the adverse collateral effects of anti-trafficking efforts by ensuring that innocent women and girls are not arbitrarily arrested, abused and falsely charged, particularly women from marginalized groups and women in prostitution, including through any raids conducted by law enforcement authorities with a view to dismantling trafficking networks.

77. Create national guidelines which are updated on a regular basis for early identification, provision of services and referral of victims or presumed victims that are benchmarked against international standards, integrating a rights-based, victim-centered, age- and gender-sensitive and trauma-informed approach and which is uniformly applicable at international borders and throughout the territory of the State party by all relevant state and non-state actors.

78. Identification, access to assistance and referral is to be performed by multidisciplinary teams including professionals from all relevant fields, the composition of which can be adapted to the circumstances of the case, and should not be exclusively led by law enforcement or immigration authorities or being linked to the initiation or outcomes of criminal proceedings but based on the personal and social vulnerabilities of victims and potential victims.

79. Provide updated and consistent training to professionals from all relevant fields on the causes, consequences and incidence of trafficking in women and girls and different forms of exploitation, and on the content and effective implementation of national guidelines on victim identification, provision of services and referral systems to facilitate the safe, confidential and non-discriminatory screening and referral of victims, including non-nationals, after obtaining their informed consent.

80 Strengthen the health systems’ capacities for early identification and intervention for women and girls, irrespective of migration status, at risk of trafficking and for trafficking victims, ensuring confidential and safe access to free healthcare, based on trauma-informed and survivor-centered care as informed by international standards.

81. Collaborate with civil society organizations including through strengthening their human, technical and financial resources, to ensure that victims of trafficking are identified, assisted and protected at an early stage, including through the operation of mobile units, and the availability of safe disclosure and safe spaces, particularly targeting sites where displaced and migrant women and girls are accommodated, registered or detained.

82. Assess the impact of the national legal and policy framework, particularly with respect to the application of immigration, asylum, labour, health, education and social protection frameworks on trafficking victims, to ensure they do not adversely affect victim identification, assistance, protection and social inclusion/reintegration, and do not increase women and girls’ vulnerability to trafficking, retrafficking, detention, forced return or other forms of harm.

83. Address disincentives for victims to seek assistance including through establishing a firewall between immigration enforcement, the criminal justice system and all care and support services, and ensuring that victims of and those vulnerable to trafficking can safely go to the authorities, without fear for negative consequences, such as prosecution, punishment, detention or deportation for immigration, labour or other offences related to their being a victim of trafficking.

            (ii)     Application of other protection frameworks

84. Improve cross-border collaboration, coordination and knowledge exchange among border control, law enforcement, child and social protection authorities and non-governmental organizations, to provide displaced and migrant women and girls with appropriate and sufficient reception facilities and services by reflecting gender and trauma-sensitivity in arrangements for arrivals at land, air and sea borders, including the provision of safe accommodation and adequate treatment taking into consideration the need for skilled personnel to adequately screen and identify for potential victims of trafficking as well as ensuring the necessary measures are in place to respond to the specific protection needs of victims of trafficking, including access to consular protection.

85. Ensure that all governance measures taken at international borders including those aimed at addressing irregular migration and combating transnational organized crime are in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of arbitrary and collective expulsions.

86. Build the capacity and facilitate the periodic updated training of law enforcement staff, including police, immigration and border control officers, as well as professionals working in and around areas where women and girls facing or at risk of distress migration and displacement are located on their role in ensuring adequate protection to this group, by establishing procedures to identify possible trafficking victims, including those suspected of association with or returning from territory under the control of non-state armed groups.

87. Apply a due diligence framework to the risk assessment conducted by multidisciplinary teams for the identification and protection of trafficked women and girls from further rights violations. This includes:

     (a)         Providing access to statelessness status determination procedures and granting legal status and protection to stateless women and girls, including protection against forcible return to their country of origin;

     (b)         Developing regular coordination between the asylum procedures and the trafficking protection systems such that when both grounds are recognized, women and girls have access to both refugee status and protection as victims or potential victims of trafficking;

     (c)         Carrying out screenings of displaced and migrant women and girls suspected of breaches of national labour, immigration or criminal laws, and those held in places of deprivation of liberty, particularly in detention centers for undocumented migrants;

     (d)     Establishing indicators to identify trafficked women and girls, especially sexually exploited women and girls, in areas affected by armed conflict to ensure trafficking victims are not inadvertently placed in detention or removal proceedings;

     (e)         Providing refugees, including victims of human trafficking in armed conflict, with the option to document their cases for future legal action to hold traffickers accountable.

88. Recognize that in specific cases trafficking in women and girls may be considered gender-related persecution, with the result that victims or potential victims are informed of and effectively enjoy the right of access to fair, efficient, trauma-informed and clear asylum procedures without discrimination or any preconditions, regardless of country of origin or mode of entry into the State party or their participation in criminal proceedings. Interpret the ground for persecution of victims under the 1951 Convention in line with the UNHCR Guidelines on international protection: No. 1 (Gender), No. 7 (Trafficking), No. 8 (Child Asylum Claims) and No. 9 (diverse SOGI).

89. States parties are obligated to protect victims of trafficking, especially women and girls, from revictimization. This includes:

     (a)     Guaranteeing trafficking victims protection against forcible return to their places of origin where:

     (i)          This is not an appropriate durable solution for victims due to fear of                    being retrafficked or experiencing stigma, threats, intimidation, violence           and retaliation;

     (ii)         They may face persecution and/ or violations of the right to life or the         prohibition against torture;

     (b)         Protecting children born of trafficking from re-victimization and stigmatization, including through clarifying and securing the legal status of undocumented children, providing comprehensive support and ensuring they are not separated from their mothers.

90. Girls who are at risk of being re-trafficked should not be returned to their country of origin unless it is in their best interests and appropriate measures for their protection have been taken including a risk and security assessment to ensure a safe return, the availability of long-term reintegration support in the country of return, comprising of access to healthcare, education and/or vocational training, and protection from discrimination and re-trafficking.

91. Improve cooperation with receiving states to ensure the voluntary repatriation of citizens and permanent residents who have been trafficked abroad where they wish to return, facilitated through standardized processes and effective communication between authorities and officials involved in this process, ensuring that the receiving country complies with international standards for protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking.

           (iii)     Non-criminalization and non-conditionality

92. Based on human rights and humanitarian grounds, provide access to free legal aid, grant where possible a reflection and recovery period and residence permit pending formal identification to enable trafficked women and their dependents to take part in recovery and reintegration measures, that must be inclusive and accessible, that are not made conditional on their participation in the criminal justice process or the obtaining of a conviction against traffickers, including appropriate individualized, gender- and child-sensitive and trauma-informed emergency and longer-term access to accommodation, welfare benefits, educational and employment opportunities, high quality medical care, including sexual and reproductive health services and counseling, no-cost issuance of official identification documents, family reunification measures and to asylum procedures where relevant. Grant girl victims an indefinite period residence permit in line with their best interests to access a durable solution, which is sustainable and secure in the long-term.

93. Provide immediate access to a sufficient number of adequately funded, well-equipped, shelters, and separate units for victims of sexual violence and enforced prostitution within shelters and crisis centres, which are safe, accessible, and appropriate for trafficked women and girls, including women accompanied by children, with specially trained staff that focus on the provision of tailored assistance to victims according to standard operating procedures ensuring their dignified treatment in a confidential manner.

94. Ensure that assistance services and social inclusion programmes for all women impacted by trafficking are provided on an informed and voluntary basis and victims, neither their children, are not forcibly kept or detained in shelters or “rehabilitation” programmes against their will, in compulsory protective detention, including for witness testimony purposes. In the exceptional case that limitations are placed on women’s freedom of movement for security considerations such limitations should be restricted to the shortest period.

95. Support community-based programmes for reintegration and social inclusion of women and girl victims of trafficking, including access to safe and affordable independent accommodation, creation of a work quota for victims in state agencies, and inclusion of victims in the list of priority groups for access to social programs, and access to the redemption of tax debts.

96. Ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child is a primary consideration in decision making for all girl victims of trafficking, including non-nationals, that their right to be heard is respected, they are guaranteed access to developmentally- and age-appropriate protection and support services that are integrated, interdisciplinary, and include individualized case management, to family tracing, and reunification of unaccompanied and separated children, and that children are never criminalised or detained. Carry out age assessments only as a measure of last resort and in a manner that is multi-disciplinary, scientifically and culturally appropriate, child- and gender-sensitive and, for all unaccompanied or separated girls, overseen by a qualified guardian.

97. Counter stereotypical attitudes and discrimination towards women and girl victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, particularly migrants, by providing trauma informed, gender- and child-sensitivity training for individuals tasked with providing assistance and protection services, including to relevant local and State level authorities, public and private recruitment agencies and employers, the police, border officers, immigration, embassy and consular authorities, labour inspectors, social workers, health-care providers and child protection agencies.

98. Ensure that all women and girl victims of trafficking, without exception, are not subject to arrest, charge, detention, prosecution or penalty or are otherwise punished for irregular entry or stay in countries of transit and destination, absence of documentation, or for their involvement in unlawful activities to the extent that such involvement is a direct consequence of their situation as victims of trafficking. The non-punishment principle must:

     (a)         Be enshrined in legislation and implemented through proper training to ensure responders are able to identify trafficking victims for such relief;

     (b)         Not compel victims to provide evidence or testimony in exchange for immunity from prosecution redress or services;

     (c)         Provide recourse for trafficking victims to clear their criminal records in cases where they have been convicted of crimes that were committed as a direct consequence of being a victim of trafficking.

           (iv)     Right to information about rights and legal assistance

99. Provide all women and girls with accessible information in a format they can understand about their rights under the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the legal provisions protecting them from trafficking and exploitation and corresponding remedies to complain about violations of those rights, how to gain access to them, their entitlements to continued assistance and protection including hotlines that are operational 24/7, free to legal aid, advice and representation in judicial and quasi-judicial processes in all fields of law.

            (v)     Right to a remedy

100. Ensure facilitated access to inclusive age- and gender-sensitive complaints and justice mechanisms, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, for all women and girl victims of trafficking, including non-citizens, by providing effective channels for seeking protection and redress for violations of their rights by creating adequate conditions to bring complaints without fear of reprisals, arrest, detention or deportation.

101. Ensure that that trafficked women and girls have a legally enforceable right to affordable, accessible and timely remedies through the criminal, civil and labour courts and administrative proceedings, including to compensation, back wages and other tailored reparations, that are not made conditional on confiscation of assets from their traffickers and which shall be guaranteed under the conditions provided for in the domestic law for victims. Compensation as a victim of crime should have no impact on social assistance received by victims or as provided by another other State program.

          C.     Gender-sensitive court proceedings

102. Guarantee all trafficked women and girls a fair hearing and due process in administrative and judicial proceedings, including detention and expulsion proceedings, ensuring they are heard, informed and consulted throughout the hearing and have access to adequate trauma-informed, culturally-specific and gender- and age-sensitive accommodations, support and protection to enable them to testify against their traffickers.

103. Safeguard the right to privacy of trafficked girls; ensuring they are continuously informed and can exercise their right to be heard. Ensure their right to special protection in court proceedings through the provision of specialized child-sensitive legal assistance to simplify testifying procedures and prevent additional trauma, including by appointing victim advocates, social workers or legal guardians.

104. Fund and support the effective implementation of protection systems for trafficked women and girls, their family members, witnesses and informants, to safeguard against threats and retaliation from trafficking networks both during and after legal proceedings, including through witness protection programmes, needs-based court procedures, and temporary residence permits for non-citizens and their dependents, irrespective of their cooperation in the prosecution.

105. Promptly investigate, prosecute and adequately punish both those directly involved in trafficking and those negligent in dealing with or preventing trafficking cases, including alleged corruption of government officials and the private sector, ensuring the sanctions imposed are commensurate with the gravity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

106. Ensure the effective prosecution and adequately punishment of traffickers of women and girls through the design, implementation and periodic evaluation of multisectorial capacity-building programmes for all court officials and support staff on the trauma-informed age-, gender- and culturally-sensitive, human rights-based application of anti-trafficking legislation and treatment of victims.

107. States parties are encouraged to systematize their criminal justice and judicial cooperation, including harmonizing legal procedures for mutual legal assistance, extradition and the confiscation and return of proceeds of crime, with countries of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in women and girls.

108. Build and adequately resource cross-agency investigative teams to track the financial flows generated by trafficking in women and girls and redistribute any confiscated proceeds of such criminal conduct to victims as compensation for the human rights violations that they have suffered.

          D.     Data collection and legislative, policy and institutional framework

109. Establish partnerships between anti-trafficking, migration and development practitioners, international organizations and women and girl-focused civil society stakeholders, including community based organisations of groups affected by trafficking and/or anti trafficking measures, to systematically collect, exchange, analyse and publish data with the objective of developing an understanding of trends in trafficking of women and girls, and implementing targeted, evidenced-based strategies in its prevention, in enhancing the prompt gender-responsive, human rights- and needs-based assistance to victims and in ensuring their protection and reparation.

110. Disaggregate data collected on both victims and perpetrators of trafficking on all parameters considered relevant (including by sex, age, disability, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, location, socioeconomic status and all forms of exploitation) under indicator 16.2.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, where permitted by national law.

111. All measures for data collection, storage, sharing or dissemination must be carried out in a legal and ethical manner with due accordance to international standards on privacy and confidentiality.

112. Adopt and implement comprehensive victim-centered, child and gender-sensitive anti-trafficking legislation that provides a harmonized approach to criminalizing trafficking at all jurisdiction levels, ensuring that it:

     (a)         Fully complies with international human rights standards, including the Convention, this general recommendation, the United Nations Trafficking Protocol and applicable regional instruments;

     (b)         Codifies that victim consent shall not be a defense to trafficking;

     (c)         Where not already penalized in other national laws, aims to combat trafficking for purposes of, among others, child, forced and servile marriage, domestic servitude, debt bondage, serfdom, begging, forced or compulsory labour, slave trading, slavery, sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation, abusive surrogacy practices and the sale of children, trafficking in organs, tissues and cells, including trafficking in human eggs, and forced criminality;

     (d)         Addresses contemporary methods of trafficking, including those using information and communications technologies, including social media;

     (e)         Promotes patrimonial investigation as a key tool to fight trafficking;

     (f)          Is developed, implemented, monitored and evaluated to assess its impact, with the active participation of women and girls affected by human trafficking.

113. Adopt a result-oriented evidence-led, gender-responsive, rights-based and victim-centered comprehensive anti-trafficking national plan of action, ensuring it is:

     (a)         In compliance with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Recommended Principles and Guidelines: on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, on Migrants in Vulnerable Situations, and on Human Rights at International Borders;

     (b)     Harmonized with the national action plans on gender equality, on combating violence against women, on women, peace and security, on migration and asylum management and on sustainable development;

     (c)     Adequately funded and regularly assessed.

114. Establish a National Referral Mechanism with the objective to coordinate the alignment of all relevant national policies in ensuring an effective and human rights-based approach to combatting trafficking in women and girls, ensuring it is operationalized by a dedicated and fully funded Secretariat responsible for the harmonization of clear information management and coordination structures between relevant local and national authorities (including migration, asylum and labour officials), national human rights institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations engaged in combatting trafficking in women and girls, to develop a common response, including comprehensive standard operating procedures outlining relevant legal obligations, referral procedures, roles and responsibilities.

115. Establish an independent National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking to track and report on the progress of gender-transformative anti-trafficking strategies.

E. Dissemination and reporting

116.    The Committee underscores the need to accelerate the implementation of all the provisions of the Convention in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the recommendations emanating from the Beijing +25 review, as a means to induce transformative and radical change in women’s exercise of their autonomy and self-determination.

117.    States parties are recommended to include information in their periodic reports to the Committee on the strategies implemented to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls in their anti-trafficking response.

118.    The United Nations specialized agencies, rapporteurs and experts are invited to provide country and region-specific input to the Committee on the situation of trafficking and sexual exploitation in women and girls in the context of global migration and protection and recovery measures taken as appropriate to the State party under review.

119.    States parties’ are encouraged to report on their strategies to implement a gender-transformative anti-trafficking response to other mechanisms: Universal Periodic Review process of the United Nations Human Rights Council; High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development; Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration; and the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto.

120.    This general recommendation should be translated into local languages and disseminated widely to all branches of government, civil society, the media, academic institutions, women’s, girls’ and migrant’s rights organizations, the private sector and financial institutions.

           F.     Treaty ratification or accession

121.    States parties are encouraged to ratify or accede to the:

     (a)         Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

     (b)         Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

     (c)         Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography;

     (d)     International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

     (e)         ILO Labour rights framework for the governance of labour migration and protection of migrant workers: Domestic Workers Convention C189 and Recommendation 201 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers; Convention C190 on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work; Forced Labour Conventions (No. 29) 1930 and (No. 105) 1957, Protocol (P029) 2014 and Recommendation (R203) 2014;

     (f)          1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees; 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;

     (g)         1926 Slavery Convention and its Supplementary Convention of 1956;

     (h)         1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

122    States parties are urged to endorse the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants including the Global Compacts on Refugees and for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

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