Leadership Perspectives | Dec 10, 2018

Ana Inés Alvarez shares her life-changing experience at The Global Freedom Exchange event

A life-changing experience at The Global Freedom Exchange

Seeing first-hand the vital work the Avon Foundation is doing for women around the world

Ana Inés Alvarez, Manager at Avon Foundation Argentina, writes about her life-changing experience at The Global Freedom Exchange event, a partnership between Hilton and Vital Voices, with additional support from the Avon Foundation for Women. She was honoured to be included in the panel of inspirational leaders, all daring to curb the tide of sex and labour trafficking around the world.

I´ve sat down to write about my experience of my Global Freedom Exchange (GFE) event many times, trying to find the right words for what really was a life-changing experience. It’s hard to express just how much it meant to me, but here goes.

It was incredible to meet the most amazing women, who are fighting human trafficking. Hearing about their work, their life experiences, and their thoughts about the challenges we are facing in each country was both emotional and inspirational. One example is Francisca from Cameroon, who is a survivor of human trafficking, and also a brilliant and thoughtful advocate dedicated to rescuing other women. Each participant added life experience, knowledge, and vision - making GFE such a unique experience.

I have many highlights, but here are just a few:

• Visiting the Immokalee Workers Coalition, who give informal farm workers better labour conditions, with a consistent commitment to protect female workers, who are most vulnerable to sex abuse. Getting to know their work, their achievements, their next steps was very powerful.

• Visiting an average of two refuges in each city, each one different but with the same commitment: give shelter and better conditions to woman and child suffering Gender Based Violence, trafficking and sex exploitation.

• Visiting the prostitution court in Dallas. This one year volunteer programme allows woman with prostitution charges to go through the process of changing their lives with support from a team of experts. During our visit we had a chance not only to see the team in action, but also assist in the graduation of three women. They shared with us how they are able live a new life, thanks to the justice support, family, and network built by the programme.

There were so many opportunities to learn, agree and also disagree, because that allows us to come up with new ideas and learn from what’s being done well. The experience allowed me to think about our role in advocating for women’s human rights in a creative way, and with a unique worldwide vision.

I´m not the same person anymore. I´m now even more committed to ending violence against women and girls. The event also confirmed what I already knew, that Avon is doing what every company should be doing: taking a 24/7 commitment to change women´s lives around the world with a 360° vision. I´m proud to be a part of it.