Walking Free, in a Generation

By Nick Grono

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end modern slavery. It has the ambitious, but critically important, goal of ending modern slavery – in every country and in all its forms – in this generation.

Here’s the thing:  While still a very new organization, Walk Free is creating a 21st-century solution to a 21st-century crisis. The four key pillars of our strategy include: 1) building a global movement, 2) generating and supporting business leadership, 3) filling information gaps through an index on slavery and 4) bringing new funding into the space.

Walk Free’s global movement uses modern technologies and social media to raise awareness and demand action worldwide to fight conditions that enable modern slavery to exist. Our supporters mobilize fellow citizens, and pressure governments, businesses and communities to take action and shift away from cultural attitudes that tolerate modern slavery. This has already led to changes in corporate practices that have the potential to impact people’s lives. For example, together with the Cotton Campaign, Walk Free secured the agreement of Inditex (the parent company of international clothing retailer Zara) to join the Responsible Sourcing Network pledge to boycott cotton from Uzbekistan harvested by forced labour.

The global movement has earned one million supporters in February and is growing at a rate of several hundred thousand new supporters every month.

Walk Free strives to foster and support business leadership on this issue. Modern slavery will not be eradicated until business leaders ensure their supply chains are slave-free and energetically apply their resources to call governments, civil society and other businesses to join the fight. Walk Free is working with the world’s business leaders – whether through business-to-business engagement in Myanmar or through the development of policy papers provided to businesses – to help them understand how they can play a role in ending modern slavery.

Critical gaps in information continue to hamper global and local efforts to address modern slavery. The Global Slavery Index will address the big information gaps about where modern slavery exists and what governments are doing to tackle it. The Index will identify the risk of slavery and its prevalence by country and then provide an ongoing record of the progress of the efforts to fight it. The first edition of the Index will be published in September 2013.

Finally, the fourth pillar of Walk Free’s strategy will be the establishment of a Global Fund, to generate the resources needed to address slavery. This global funding initiative will bring governments, business and donors together to identify the best strategies to end modern slavery, and invest in scaling them up to achieve maximum impact.                 

For more information please contact Fiona David at fiona.david@walkfree.org.      

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Nick Grono is the CEO of Walk Free.