This "Solidarity Share" was presented as part of a Keynote Plenary at the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. Solidarity Shares were created by pairs of Delegates from different communities across the globe working together to find shared points of struggle, joy, and connection. We hope their stories inspire you to connect across borders, to see the ways that struggles in your community might benefit from solidarity with another.
Alejandra Colmenero and Laura-Jane Watkins
Denver, Colorado and Bloemfontein, South Africa
My name is Alejandra Colmenero, and I am from Denver, Colorado. In my community, human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a challenge.
The Center for Public Policy Studies has stated that from the year 2010 until now, law enforcement investigates an average of 100 cases annually in the Denver metro area.
Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center show that there have been 19 cases of human trafficking in my state this year alone; these include labor trafficking in Northern Colorado, and sex trafficking throughout the state.
We can fight this issue by first being educated on the subject, and taking simple steps such as being prepared to help by calling the national human trafficking hotline.
And we must remember that the roots of human trafficking are a result of many injustices combine that leave people vulnerable to becoming victims; poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunities for people, especially women and girls, are some of them – and all these injustices can be prevented.
My name is Laura-Jane Watkins and I am Bloemfontein, South Africa. Mine is a community where privilege and poverty walk side-by-side but rarely hand-in-hand. South Africa's history of gross race and gender based discrimination has entrenched socio-economic disparities.
Poverty is a breeding-ground for violence and when a sever lack of education co-exists in this environment it exacerbates inequality, fueling estimates such as every 36 seconds a woman is raped countrywide.
Mine is a community where the exploitation of common customary practices such as 'ukuthwala' have produced a society that stereotypes women as expendable commodities.There is hope however, in solidarity. Through education and awareness we can protect the vulnerable members of society and empower communities to dismantle discriminatory norms.
Our respective locations may be far removed, but our passion to see justice and equality for all humanity is as close as our hearts will carry us.
Together, we have the power to challenge our everyday actions, and bring equality and justice to our lives, our community, and the world.
Our challenge is your challenge.