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Jul 21, 2020

In Episode 6 of Series 5 of The Rights Track, Todd is talking with Jasmine O'Connor and Emily Wyman. Jasmine is CEO of Anti-Slavery International, which has been fighting to end slavery since its foundation in 1839. Emily leads the Rights Lab's Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning and manages strategic partnerships between with external partners in civil society, business and government, to enhance multi-sector cooperation against modern slavery. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 17 on revitalising the Global Partnership for sustainable development.

00.00 – 05.40

Todd begins by asking Jasmine to outline how NGOs bring about change. 

The ASI approach is to listen to victims and those vulnerable to slavery.

  1. To understand the underlying causes / drivers of modern slavery.
  2. To inform the planning of effective solutions.

Common themes emerge in terms of who is vulnerable to slavery:

  • people facing discrimination
  • people in poverty
  • people vulnerable to global shocks e.g. the COVID pandemic

There is a need to understand the mechanisms by which people become “tricked and trapped” into forms of modern slavery, from the perspective of the victims themselves and to understand that entrapment is not the victim’s fault.

05.40 – 07.47

Jasmine describes the socio – economic factors which increase vulnerability:

  • market conditions which drive down prices in supply chains
  • lack of government oversight of supply chains 
  • children are vulnerable to being exploited online
  • various (legal) loopholes used by traffickers

Understanding the systematic way people are tricked and trapped means working closely with employers, educators, and organisations and agencies across the whole range of SDGs.  

07.47 – 10.33

Todd moves on to ask how ASI engages with different networks. Two elements are identified.

  1. Partnering with agencies at “grass roots level” is key.
  2. Engaging with governments, multi-national corporations and other NGOs to share information.

Example: ASI’s internal survey of partner institutions on impact of the COVID pandemic reveals:

  • 51% reported evidence of increased slavery, trafficking and child exploitation
  • 73% reported their governments had not included needs and rights of the vulnerable in responses to the pandemic

ASI use data to lobby governments and UN agencies to ensure awareness of new vulnerabilities to slavery due to the COVID pandemic.

10.33 – 15.20

Todd comments on the disproportionate effect of COVID19 on certain social groups  and agrees how important it is to understand and act on new vulnerabilities. He brings in Emily Wyman to discuss the role of partnerships and data and how the academic research can plug into the work of NGOs working on modern slavery. 

Emily explains that a key role of researchers like her is to scan and review all the existing data and information that exists and to work out the impact that organisations like ASI are having in the field of modern slavery. 

She describes ASI as an organisation that generates and makes available large amounts of information about the work it does and the impacts it is having.

Reviewing all this information can help pinpoint gaps in interventions and provide intelligence to NGOs on which interventions are working.

Researchers can also build tools to help develop effective evaluation procedures for interventions and aid efficient use of resources.

Emily emphasises how important it is to work with NGOs to understand their needs and build strong relationships, and to understand the key drivers of modern slavery. Listening is key to strong relationships that can end modern slavery. 

15.20 – 18.38

Emily mentions The Rights Lab’s Kathryn Bryant’s work with the Walk Free initiative which showed a need to improve the evidence base around modern slavery which has led her and colleagues to work on some practical tools and templates to support NGOs in the monitoring and evaluation of their projects.

These cover three areas:

  • Goals
  • Outcomes
  • Indicators

The work has also included the development of an indicator bank, recommendations on conducting rights-based monitoring and evaluation, advice on using survivor knowledge and experiences and the development of technological solutions for field-based work.

The aim is to improve the evidence base to identify high impact interventions and quick win solutions.

18.38 – 22.02

Todd asks Jasmine if and how ASI uses a theory of change. Jasmine explains:

  • ASI have a “global” theory, which is adjusted for specific local circumstances.  Theories are not always successful but need to be trialed by organisations to find what does work.
  • Example: Descent based slavery, Niger, a project focusing on educating children which leads to empowerment and an awareness of individual rights and helps break the bonds of slavery.
  • The ASI theory of change involves working with families, communities, governments and NGOs to evolve community-generated solutions to reduce poverty and vulnerability to slavery.
  • Education is key

Jasmine says it’s crucial that donors invest in experiments and trials to find out what works and then if it works invest in it.

22.02 – 26.00

Emily describes the issues around building partnerships and collaboration between research and front-line organisations.

  • There is a large number of organisations but a lack of co-ordination between them
  • There is a lack of evidence / evaluation
  • Competition for scarce funding resources 

Note: the promising practices database found just 179 evaluations in 1500 organisations.

  • The evidence base needs to be improved quickly
  • Strong evaluations are a route to better funding.

Emily says that her work is indicating that collaboration around the area of data and methods is looking very promising with lots of goodwill and willingness from organisations.

26.00 – end

Todd asks both guests about the UK government’s planned merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office.

Jasmine’s is concerned to ensure that the 0.7% of GDP for projects which address the SDGs remains intact. She says ASI will continue to lobby hard for the continued efforts to tackle modern slavery.

Emily fears that the budget will be threatened but agrees that strong advocacy is needed to hold government to account.