Women Migrant Workers are Vulnerable

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This year, the Australian Embassy to the Holy See will join ACRATH for the launch of its 16 Days of Activism, which will focus on women migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation, starting on November 25 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

ACRATH’s executive officer Christine Carolan is in Rome with Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See for this important launch.

“The social justice challenge is global; vulnerable workers are on the move right across the planet. So global solutions must be sought, and global justice-focused alliances must be built and strengthened,” Chiara and Christine said.

Christine said it was estimated that migrant workers were three times more likely to be in forced labour than non-migrant workers. Chiara said she hoped that through the campaign the faces of these vulnerable workers will become visible.

“Debate on immigration dominates political discourse in many countries around the world, and yet, the working conditions of many migrants – which are often precarious and exploitative – remain relatively unknown. There is an urgent need to raise awareness of this issue and to reaffirm our support for the dignity of all human beings,” Chiara said.

The 16 Days of Activism begins on November 25 and concludes on December 10, Human Right’s Day. ACRATH has developed a calendar of events (click here to download), resources and stories, to mark days through the campaign.

Christine reminded people that ACRATH has organised a campaign to mark the 16 Days every year since 2005 and has published a 16-day calendar to encourage our network to stop and remember women vulnerable to exploitation and women working to make a difference.

The campaign will be presented at an event hosted by women Ambassadors to the Holy See at Villa Bonaparte, the French Embassy to the Holy See, on 1 December 2023.

“Catholic entities are making an important contribution on the prevention of labour exploitation and violence against women in the migrant worker context. Pope Francis has been extremely vocal about the need to protect the most vulnerable, including those who are seeking better lives elsewhere. His calls to protect migrants, describing it “as a duty of civilization”, and to combat the “globalization of indifference”, have underlined the urgency of addressing this growing global challenge,” Chiara said.

“In that first year I remember visiting some Sisters in Belgium and they had the ACRATH 16 day calendar in their chapel to focus their daily prayer, and when I popped in to visit some Sisters in New York, the Sisters had our ACRATH 16 day calendar on their fridge. I hope in 2023, with Ambassador Chiara offering partnership, we will bring to an even larger network our concern for women migrant workers and their families. We will continue to build a world where just working conditions are the norm for women migrant workers and their families,” Christine said.

Christine echoed her words saying: “In 2023 there are so many people on the move across our planet seeking work in another country and many are women. Other women stay behind with their children and elderly parents while their partners leave home to work overseas; all are attempting to make a living to support their families in any way they can. This campaign reminds me of the women on the move for work, and of their increased vulnerability to exploitation”.

The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report published in 2021 said that an estimated 50 million people were living in situations of modern slavery on any given day in 2021. The most vulnerable — women, children, and migrants — remain disproportionately affected. More than 12 million of all people in modern slavery are children, and women and girls account for over half of them (54 per cent).

The report found that, “while labour migration has a largely positive effect on individuals, households, communities and societies, this finding demonstrates how migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour and trafficking, whether because of irregular or poorly governed migration, or unfair and unethical recruitment practices”. 


  1. Jan Coleman on November 23, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    Thank you for your latest ACRATH Newsletter. You all do such wonderful work in this never-ending area of exploitation of migrant workers and so many other vulnerable people.
    How good to see Christine Carolan and Chiara Porro in Rome – such strong representatives they are; and lobbying to the Vatican representatives and playing a part in the 16 Days of Activism. The Pope, I am sure, is right behind their mission with his views on justice and aid for the exploited.
    I shall place the calendar on my fridge also!
    All blessings and admiration.

  2. ACRATH on November 24, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you for your comment Jan. We are delighted you are joining the campaign. Together we can make a difference.

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