According to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century, second only to drugs, with the majority of those trafficked being women and girls. This estimated $150 billion industry claims the freedom of approximately 40.3 million people worldwide, who are enslaved for labor or sex trafficking. During recruitment and exploitation, most victims are trafficked using some form of transportation, including airplanes.
NAWBO’s corporate partner, Southwest Airlines, is committed to loving people, building resilience and living responsibly through its Community Outreach initiatives. As part of its strategic areas of focus, Southwest focuses on Human Trafficking Awareness by partnering with national and local organizations dedicated to prevention, rescue and recovery.
In 2019, Southwest Airlines worked with their nonprofit partner Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, to launch online curriculum for all of their 60,000 employees. The curriculum provides employees an overview of the crime of Human Trafficking, tips on how to identify Human Trafficking and suggested actions that should be taken, if necessary, to combat suspected instances.
Southwest’s commitment is further strengthened by their support of other nonprofit organizations in geographies where trafficking is prevalent. United Against Human Trafficking and the NAWBO member-owned Rethreaded are at the frontlines of this epidemic, working locally to combat human trafficking and support survivors.
In 2017, Southwest donated 30 pallets of leather to Rethreaded after refurbishing seats on its aircraft to be utilized for upcycling products in Rethreaded‘s workforce training program. Rethreaded, a Southwest Repurpose with Purpose partner, gives career opportunities to women who have experienced exploitation and trauma coming out of human trafficking. The women begin with a three-month development program that includes on-the-job training as well as mental health counseling, crisis management and case management. They are then fully integrated into the business through one of five departments and are pivotal in all aspects of the organization.
Its critical survivors receive these foundational services in order to rebuild their lives and gain independence. Still, it will take a village to combat this issue. That’s why, we applaud Southwest Airlines in their endeavors and encourage our NAWBO member community to take a stand against Human Trafficking.
Together, with due diligence we can begin taking steps to help eradicate this issue. For more information on this growing epidemic, visit polarisproject.org.