I have been the director of GFN for four years. I have a business background but decided to dedicate my career to this cause four years ago.
Walk Free was founded by Grace and Dr Andrew Forrest in 2010. It is part of and funded by the Minderoo Foundation, which is a philanthropic foundation working to stop injustice and create opportunity in Australia and around the world.
Global Freedom Network is the faith-based arm of Walk Free.
It is above all an important symbolic event which contributes to raise awareness of these crimes which affect most of the nations of the planet.
We also want to build a network of religious leaders who can share their common wisdom and empathy to help encourage social and regulatory change in their countries.
We believe religious leaders can play a vital role in identifying and supporting victims, especially in communities with limited resources.
The declaration was launched at the Vatican in Rome in 2014. From Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi at the Vatican, to Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu and other religious leaders in Accra, more than 100 religious leaders around the world have now approved this single pledge, contained in these books over there.
Interreligious collaboration is at the heart of GFN’s philosophy. So far, all major denominations have endorsed the statement with each signature, which includes; Islamic, Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox, Hindu, Protestant and Pentecostal.
It is a broad term, used to describe a range of crimes, of which human trafficking is perhaps the most common and best known. Pope Francis defined this crime in 2013 with these words – when people “…are treated like objects, deceived, assaulted, often sold repeatedly for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, injured physically and mentally, ending scrapped and abandoned”.
Like many countries around the world, most African countries are affected by various forms of modern slavery.
We held our first African signing in Accra, Ghana in 2021. In addition to Ghanaian faith leaders, faith leaders from Nigeria and Ivory Coast also attended, and were endorsed remotely by interfaith councils from Kenya and South Africa.
Walk Free publishes the Global Slavery Index, which charts the prevalence and government response to modern slavery crimes around the world. In terms of regulatory response, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria are among nine countries in Africa to be rated B; the others are more poorly rated. Ten countries – mostly in Europe – are rated A.
The app provides concise and clear information on modern slavery and human trafficking. We piloted it in Ghana and are currently launching it in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, DRC, Kenya and South Africa. There are country-specific profiles. Our approach is to work with a local advisory group of religious leaders; we provide the initial skeleton content, then we pass editorial control to them – to develop, add country-specific case studies and prayers.
In parallel, there is also a universal section, in several languages, which gives a broad overview of these crimes and the resources to combat them.
Google and Apple app stores.
In Ghana, the app’s advisory board ran a social media and television campaign to promote International Migration Day in December 2021. They are also working on an anti-trafficking hotline awareness program on buses crossing Ghana’s land borders.
See also below a testimonial from Very Rev Opeyemi Awe General Secretary, African Methodist Council:
The Faith for Freedom app is a pioneer in engaging faith-based organizations in joint action against any form of human trafficking that constitutes a crime against humanity. The app offers information on how to identify victims, how to help, and other resources that can help faith leaders engage their congregations against these acts of modern slavery. The app has also made interfaith cooperation possible in a world where there are so many divisions. The Faith for Freedom app is loaded with so many resources that the African Methodist Council had to introduce it to its members by inviting the Global Freedom Network to talk about it during the Council’s commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Abolition (UN) Slavery Day 2021 held annually on December 2 to raise awareness of the atrocities of modern slavery in Tema Ghana. We at the African Methodist Council are willing to expand the use of the app to all our conferences and especially among young people who are primarily affected by the effects of human trafficking and irregular migration. Personally, I use the app as an out-of-the-box resource for talking about the atrocities of human trafficking, not only does it talk about the problem, but links and resources to the solution are also part of the package.