I recently had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. and participate in International Justice Mission’s (IJM) Advocacy Summit.
The purpose of the advocacy summit is to equip average citizens to engage with their elected officials and their wider community to effectively communicate regarding important issues, specifically the issue of human trafficking which is also known as modern day slavery.
We spent the first day learning about the specific issues we would be advocating for and how to advocate effectively. We ended the day by meeting together with our state groups to plan out our strategies for the next day’s meetings.
On the second day, along with three other advocates from California, I had several meetings on Capitol Hill where we urged our Senators and Representatives to support two anti-slavery initiatives. We were joined by more than 300 advocates from 45 states who were also meeting with their Senators and Representatives. An IJM staff member was present at each meeting to provide support and encouragement for the advocates participating. The first priority was a “Dear Colleague” letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. “Dear Colleague” letters are often used to encourage others to cosponsor, or support certain policies or legislation. The letter asked Secretary Kerry to designate the Philippines and Ghana as focus countries for investment and support in their anti-slavery efforts. The second priority was the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act which would elevate the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons from an office to a full-fledged State Department Bureau.
IJM recently announced that the House of Representatives passed the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act on July 23, so we are celebrating the success of our advocacy efforts and one more important tool that is now in place to fight the horrible abuse of modern day slavery and trafficking.