International Women’s Day 2024: Economic Empowerment for Change

International Women’s Day 2024: Economic Empowerment for Change

This International Women's Day, we stand united in the face of a stark reality: of the 40.3 million people living in modern slavery, women and girls account for 71% of victims worldwide.   


These staggering figures are not just numbers; they represent deep-rooted inequalities and heightened risks of exploitation such as human trafficking, forced labor, and forced marriages for women. Tackling these challenges is more than a necessity; it's a vital step towards genuine progress. 


The United Nations' Call for Action: Invest in Women

The United Nations has themed International Women’s Day 2024 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress'. Economic empowerment is key to breaking down the barriers to gender equality.

Empowering women by offering quality training, meaningful employment opportunities, fair wages, and dignified work conditions, alongside nurturing their talents, is not just beneficial—it's essential for real progress.

This approach is not just beneficial for women and girls but is a paramount human rights challenge with the power to benefit everyone.

A Stand Against Gender Inequality and Modern Slavery

The fight against modern slavery, a battle we are deeply invested in at MADE FREE, is undeniably a gendered issue. According to Walk Free, females account for a staggering 99% of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, 84% of all victims of forced marriage, and 58% of all victims of forced labor.

This form of exploitation thrives on power imbalances, which are significantly magnified by gender inequality and discrimination. 

"Although modern slavery affects everyone, there is no escaping the fact that it is a gendered issue. Fundamentally, modern slavery is enabled by power imbalances. For women and girls, this imbalance is exacerbated by gender inequality and discrimination that is deeply engrained into the fabric of our lives." 

Caroline Adhiambo, Membership and Research Coordinator for Azadi Kenya 

As a society, it's our responsibility to challenge these injustices at every opportunity, advocating for the equitable treatment and inclusion of women in all spheres of life.

The MADE FREE Model: Transforming Lives Through Economic Empowerment

At MADE FREE, we believe in the power of economic empowerment to transform lives, especially for women and girls who face systemic barriers and vulnerabilities that can lead to exploitation and modern slavery. 


Female artisan of fair trade goods

Pictured: MADE FREE maker


Our commitment to forging economic empowerment is at the core of everything we do. By ensuring that all of our products are handcrafted in small factory teams certified by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) or that exceed WFTO standards, we are not just advocating for ethical production; we are actively investing in safe, dignified environments where makers can thrive.


MADE FREE makers with the Market Tote Bag

Pictured: MADE FREE makers alongside the Market Tote Bag

Our approach not only advocates for ethical production but actively invests in empowering women, ensuring they have access to quality training and the chance to earn livable wages. This proactive model is designed to empower them economically, ensuring they are less vulnerable to the pitfalls of modern slavery. 


MADE FREE Makers’ Stories of Hope and Transformation

Kanika’s New Beginning

Once a struggling widow with a special needs son, Kanika's collaboration with MADE FREE in an Indian village has provided her with financial stability and a sense of community. Her aspirations now extend to purchasing a home, a dream that inches closer to reality with each product she crafts for the MADE FREE community.

Ayanna’s Journey to Freedom

Transitioning from a life as a sex worker to becoming a maker, Ayanna now ensures her family experiences the dignity and freedom she once yearned for, demonstrating the profound impact of economic empowerment.

Jyoti’s Message of Hope 

Freed from the brothels, Jyoti now uses her story and success as a crafter to inspire and offer hope to others still trapped, embodying the possibility of a new life filled with love and peace.

Sangeeta’s Reclaimed Joy

Once trapped in despair, Sangeeta now cherishes the joy, community, and pride her work with MADE FREE brings. Her goal to buy her own home is now more than just a dream; it's a real future.

Final Thoughts 

Joining hands, we're on a mission to empower women economically, unlock opportunities for quality training and jobs, and celebrate women's creativity and talent. It's all about investing in women and backing their journey to independence and success.

How will you invest in women and girls this year?  


 Every MADE FREE purchase supports a day of freedom from human trafficking, slavery, and poverty through a self-sustaining job. Every item is handcrafted with sustainable materials by small teams that meet World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) standards.

Check out some more stories from our makers.



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