Reflections on the Past Decade: 10 years of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Reflections on the Past Decade: 10 years of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month


A decade after the inaugural National Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States, first enacted by President Obama in 2010, the fight against trafficking continues with the goal of ending modern slavery and human trafficking for good. 

The landscape of this fight has transformed significantly and in positive ways. Among some of the successes in the US context are the establishment of the survivor-led United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, increased funding for anti-trafficking through the creation of the Program to End Modern Slavery (PEMS), and an emerging cohesion around building the evidence base on what works to end trafficking in persons.  

Centering the voices of survivors through the U.S. Advisory Council is an especially significant development. At the Fund, one of our top organizational values is to Learn Continuously, striving to seek out the “knowledge and perspectives of others, especially those of whom we seek to serve and empower.” Survivors are consulted in the design of our programs and regular feedback mechanisms will soon be implemented to ensure our funding assists the intended communities. GFEMS views this as a critical element in the achievement of our mission. Expanded efforts by the US Government, such as the Advisory Council, ensure programming is survivor-informed and will help efforts across advocacy and awareness, prevention, and rescue and reintegration to result in more effective, safe, and relevant interventions.

In its most recent report, the Advisory Council recommended four areas of necessary action: 

  • Increasing awareness of survivor- and trauma-informed practices among U.S. government staff.
  • Building and supporting networks of survivors to provide training, technical assistance, and capacity building to U.S. government agencies and their grantees.
  • Increaing public awareness of all forms of human trafficking, including labor trafficking.
  • Expanding grantmaking efforts that address all forms of human trafficking and offer services and protection for all victims/survivors no matter their age, gender, creed, race, or sexual orientation.

While GFEMS does not currently implement programs in the US, we have integrated these recommendations– along with suggestions from other survivor-led alliances– into our operations. Our programs, including some funded by the PEMS program, are equipping institutional stakeholders to provide survivor- and trauma-informed care. Our partners must demonstrate how survivor input informs their project and share how survivor-leaders will be empowered through their activities. The Fund’s programs go beyond raising awareness to targeted behavior-change communications. Similarly, the Fund’s portfolio of grants span a diverse group of subrecipients to ensure varied demographics and types of trafficking are addressed.

The PEMS program, of which GFEMS was the first award recipient, represents a significant effort by the U.S. Government to expand grantmaking efforts that address all forms of trafficking. Under its PEMS award, the Fund launched programs across Rule of Law, Business Engagement, and Sustained Freedom for survivors. These programs are a new opportunity to build transformative programs and dig deep into the drivers of modern slavery in multiple sectors and geographies, discovering what really works to end modern slavery sustainably. These resources have allowed GFEMS to develop and test solutions with partners– as well as invest in evidence and learning– to address different parts of the systems perpetuating modern slavery. 

While there is still a lot to achieve, the progress the anti-TIP community has made over the past decade are steps in the right direction. Organizations are finally, and rightfully, amplifying survivor voices. Stakeholders, including GFEMS, are working collaboratively together to fill the evidence gaps in the field. This shift in emphasis to gathering actionable, rigorous, and accurate data will lead to improved interventions for GFEMS, as well as the field at large, and improve evidence-informed policy at the government level. 

Over the next decade, GFEMS looks forward to building on the momentum of progress made thus far, investing in transformative programs to reduce the prevalence of slavery, and working in partnership with others to make slavery economically unprofitable.