Zonta Club of Brampton-Caledon gives advocacy presentation to the Canadian House of Commons

Zontian Kathleen Douglass was recently invited to appear as an expert witness to testify to the Canadian House of Commons Status of Women Committee on human trafficking of women, girls and gender-diverse individuals.

Kathleen's club, the Zonta Club of Brampton-Caledon, Canada, had the opportunity to give a 5-minute presentation about Zonta's long history of tackling sexual exploitation, our alignment with SDGs 5.2 and 8.7, which both address the issue of forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking, local initiatives and recommendations for the committee. The club has been a key supporter of the Peel Human Trafficking Service Providers Network for many years, and many club members volunteer to raise funds to distribute back to the community.

Over the past few years, the club has contributed more than CA $100,000 to local organizations affiliated with the anti-trafficking effort. The funding has addressed gaps in various programs, such as victim services, emergency services and housing. Their second approach is raising awareness: they conduct social media campaigns and host community awareness events, and feature experts who can speak directly to the real impact of trafficking.

The 2022 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign helped raise further awareness of the rapidly-growing cases of trafficking, specifically in the Peel Region and a call to action to speak up and out.

Zontian Melissa Marchand, an advocacy committee member, joined Kathleen to respond to questions about our recommendations.

The club was honored and privileged to offer suggestions about peer-to-learning, increased social media campaigns and inclusion of sex-trafficking information in the curricula of secondary school students. For a small but mighty club, elected officials heard their voices from all political parties, and they look forward to the final report, which will be finalized in the autumn.

Kathleen is the club president-elect and advocacy chair.