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Human Trafficking

What We Learned in 2015


What We Learned in 2015

What We Learned in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

2015 was an exciting year! We worked to expand access to integrative healthcare for communities in need, designed programs to support new mothers, expanded awareness of clean energy initiatives in New York, and so much more. We connected with inspiring individuals who are working to change the world every day. We made big internal changes (that we’re excited to share with you in 2016!). And, perhaps most importantly, we learned a lot.

Along the way, we’ve been sure to share many of our takeaways with you via our blog. As 2015 comes to a close and you’re kicking of 2016, be sure to check out the posts below to find insights on the subjects (both personal and professional) that are most relevant to you!

Start with Yourself

This year, we learned a lot about the importance of taking time for self-care and self-improvement. The positive effects of taking care of yourself extend to all areas of your life -- from mental health to workplace effectiveness. Self-improvement looks different for each individual, and can encompass anything from taking time off, to making more responsible purchasing decisions, to educating yourself about things that matter to you. To help you get started, here’s some of what we’ve learned:


Learn from the Experts

We believe one of the best ways to learn about social impact is by example. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with and learn from innovative and effective leaders from nonprofits, social enterprises, and corporations. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:


Share Your Message

One of our focus areas at WhyWhisper is helping nonprofits and socially conscious businesses spread the word about their work. From developing voice and messaging guidelines to implementing an effective social media strategy and beyond, there are so many ways you can ensure that people know about the impact you’re making. If you’re looking for tips, start here:


Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of building social impact into existing business models is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Businesses and corporations can make significant headway in addressing social issues, and we look forward to seeing (and helping) more of you follow suit next year. If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, here’s some of what we’ve shared this past year:


Increase Your Impact

We’re constantly exploring ways that organizations and businesses can make internal changes that have a positive effect on their workplaces and on the world. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:


Take Action

We’re also always looking for ways to help our community bridge the gap between caring about a particular issue and actually taking action. When you’re short on resources, or don’t really know where to get started, it can be tough to make moves. We’ve put together a number of posts about how you can take action around different issues – and some are as easy as talking about the issues online! Check them out:


Words of Wisdom for Freelancers

At WhyWhisper, we set out to build a different kind of work structure. As such, our team is comprised of consultants who work remotely and independently, taking on projects that are personally meaningful with teammates who support and inspire. But freelancing has its own challenges, and we’ve learned a lot along the way:

What’s your biggest learning from 2015? We’d love to hear about it, and share with our community. Here’s how to get in touch:

Happy New Year to our incredible community! We’re so lucky to learn from you every day, and can’t wait for all that we’ll do together this year. Feel free to connect with us anytime – we love to hear from you.


Take a Stand for Human Rights


Take a Stand for Human Rights

by Kate Vandeveld

Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day, commemorating the day that UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. To give some context, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global expression of rights that all human beings are inherently entitled to – in other words, an extremely important step in the human rights movement.

This year, the day is dedicated to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50thanniversary of the two major human rights covenants adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1966. The theme for 2015 is ‘Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.’, focusing on such rights and freedoms as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. You can learn more about the day and what it represents here.

International Human Rights Day provides us with an opportunity to take time out of our lives to think about the rights that we believe every human should have, who lacks them, and what actions we can take to stand up for them. 

So today, we challenge you to really think about that: What do you care about enough to stand up for, and how will you go about it?

If you’re looking for some ideas to get started, here are a few campaigns we support:

Eliminate Gender Based Violence 

An estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. And that’s a conservative estimate – as you might imagine, a large number of cases go unreported.

Not enough people are aware of these shocking statistics, and that’s the first problem. That’s why from November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, through tomorrow, UN Women has been running a campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls all over the world. The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign is encouraging you to “Orange the World” by sharing photos, messages, and videos to raise awareness about the problem. If you want to join the campaign, check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds and learn how you can spread awareness yourself.


Stand up for LGBT Rights

In more than half of the country, the LGBT community can be denied employment just because of their suspected sexual preferences – it’s legal in 31 American states. And this is only the beginning of the appalling statistics surrounding this issue – learn more about LGBT discrimination here.

If you want to help spread awareness of the issues surrounding LGBT rights, check out the UN’s Free & Equal Campaign, a global public education campaign for LGBT equality. The primary purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and promote greater respect for the rights of LGBT and intersex people everywhere.  


Join the Movement for Gender Equality

Gender inequality remains a huge issue, across all sectors. To start, women in most countries earn on average only 60 to 75 per cent of men’s wages, and girls all over the world continue to be majorly excluded from education systems. And, once again, this is just the beginning – you can learn more here.  

One of our favorite initiatives around gender equality is the He for She campaign. He for She brings men and women together to support one another, for the benefit of both genders. They’re building a movement that creates substantive impact at the policy level, and they’re working to get the masses involved. You can commit to taking action against gender discrimination and violence in order to build a more just and equal world here, or take it a step further with help from their action kit


Support Syrian Refugees

Right now in Syria, 13.5 million people need humanitarian assistance. 4.3 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria – half of which are children. These people – all of them – need our help. Why now? Winter is coming, and refugees who are currently living in settlements have fewer resources than they’ve ever had. And this means that they’re more vulnerable to trafficking and other dangerous forms of escape.

If you want to provide support in this critical moment, start with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is providing basic and necessary humanitarian aid to Syrians in need. This aid takes the form of cash for medicine and food, supplies for heating, winter clothing, and more. Every donation makes a difference, and UNHCR explains exactly how each dollar amount will impact the individuals and families who need it most.


On the most basic level, just talking about human rights violations on your own digital platforms (and in real life!) is so important. Think about the issues that matter to you, do some research, and spread the word. 

What are you doing to stand up for human rights today (and beyond!)? Share with us – here’s how:


Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking


Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking

by Kate Vandeveld

Recently, human trafficking has received increased public focus. Why? Human trafficking is the illegal movement of people for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. It’s a devastating social issue, and it’s happening both internationally and here in the United States. 

Photo by Maranie Rae (

Photo by Maranie Rae (

As a multi-billion dollar industry, the International Labor Organization estimated that in 2014, there were 21 million victims of human trafficking, 5.5 million of whom were children. Recently, Pope Francis called out human trafficking as being the most pressing issue of 2015, saying that each of us “is called to combat modern forms of enslavement,” and that people from all cultures and religions must join forces in the fight against it. In 2012, President Obama committed to increase the U.S.’s efforts to combat human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative; and in 2014, the White House released its Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, a five year plan that lays out the steps that the U.S. will take on the federal level to identify trafficking victims and give them access to the services they need to start over.

This month, in support of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month, we're providing you with a few key ways you can join this fight.


Inform Yourself

The first step to joining the anti-trafficking movement is to inform yourself of the issue. While most are aware of trafficking in a general sense, many do not know that it’s happening right here in the United States, likely even in your own city or town.

In 2014, Polaris Project rated each state’s human trafficking laws based on 10 categories that make up the legal framework for combatting human trafficking, punishing traffickers, and supporting victims. As of July 2014, 39 states were ranked as Tier 1, meaning that they passed significant laws to combat human trafficking. Nine others and Washington, D.C. were ranked as Tier 2, and two others as Tier 3. Find out how your state ranked here.

While these rankings do demonstrate the strides the United States has made in terms of human trafficking litigation, we still have a ways to go, both domestically and abroad.  The U.S. State Department’s anti-trafficking office is currently without leadership after Luis CdeBaca, the Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), stepped down last November. And while there has been some litigation on the international level, much of that was pushed by the United States. If human trafficking takes a back seat here, the movement may lose momentum elsewhere.

The information we’ve included above is just the beginning. If you’re looking for in-depth information and statistics, check out the State Department’s official Trafficking in Person’s Report or UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.


Join the Conversation & Stay Involved

After you do your research, the next step is to join the conversation. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Sign petitions and speak with your local and state government representatives: Petitions like this one urge congress to pass legislation to fight human trafficking in 2015. If you’re concerned about human trafficking on the more local level, get in touch with your local or state representatives, or start a petition of your own using a resource like
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper: Raise community awareness by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. Provide information about human trafficking, urge others to be aware of the signs, and give potential victims the information that they need to seek help

When you’re talking about human trafficking, place a significant focus on sensitivity. Victims have often experienced a great deal of trauma, and their experiences are varied and nuanced. Be careful not to sensationalize the issue, or to indicate that all victims have had the same experience. If you aren’t a thoughtful advocate, your words could hurt rather than help.


Recognize the Signs & Speak Up

Human trafficking could be happening right in front of you, though victims are often unable to speak up. It’s crucial that we recognize the red flags and indicators and then get victims the help that they need. Polaris Project has developed a list of these potential signs based on their extensive experience in working with victims of human trafficking. The State Department also provides a list of indicators, along with the follow-up questions you should ask potential victims, if or when given the opportunity.

If you think you’ve identified a trafficking victim, the next step is to speak up:

If you think someone may be in immediate danger, call 911. In non-emergency cases, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888, or text “INFO” or “HELP” to BeFree (233733). The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As much as it might seem like the right thing to do, do not attempt to rescue a victim yourself – it may be unsafe for you as well as for the victim. It can also be difficult to gauge how the trafficker or the victim will react, and there may be more to the story than you are able to discern. Once you make the call to report what you know, trained professionals will take it from there.


Be a Conscientious Consumer

Every time you make a purchase, you can help reduce demand for forced labor, child labor, and exploitative labor practices. According to the ILO, of the 21 million reported trafficking victims worldwide, 14.2 million are victims of labor exploitation. This means that unless you take steps to inform yourself and adjust your purchasing behavior, you may be supporting unfair or forced working conditions by making a simple purchase.

Start with the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. The list covers a range of goods produced by countries all over the world, indicating whether or not they are typically produced using child labor or forced labor. You can also find out your own consumption of goods produced by forced labor with this Slavery Footprint survey. Then, just be conscientious and do your research. Shop locally rather than supporting big corporations, and ask questions about the products you’re purchasing. 


Contribute to an Anti-Trafficking Organization

Many of the organizations that work tirelessly to combat trafficking are currently underfunded and understaffed. They need funds to generate awareness around human trafficking, to expand their programs, and to provide hands-on support to victims. Consider making a direct donation or fundraising in support of a anti-trafficking organization. If you're not sure where to start, consult the list above for ideas.

And if you’re committed to combatting human trafficking in the long-term, think about volunteering for an organization in your area. These organizations’ small teams are often largely (or even entirely) comprised of passionate volunteers who could greatly benefit from your skills and your time. Lastly, stay involved – what the anti-trafficking movement needs most is long-term advocates.


Right now is a critical time to take action against human trafficking; and if you have other ideas or initiatives, we will help you to spread the word.

Do you know of an anti-trafficking group that’s making a big difference in your area? Let us know by commenting below, or reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram