The second Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards will be held in Rome on the 23rd of May.

The second Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards will be held in Rome on the 23rd of May.


Press release


The Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards (SATAs) is the celebration of three Sisters, as representatives of their congregations and networks, who have demonstrated exceptional courage, creativity, collaboration and achievement in the protection of their communities from human trafficking.


On May 23rd, 2024, the second edition will be held at the Augustinianum, in Rome. The event will start at 17:00 with refreshments, and the official ceremony will be held from 18:00 to 20:00. Moderated by the eminent Vatican journalist Delia Gallagher (CNN, Inside the Vatican), the ceremony will welcome the contributions from Mary Mugo, an Anti-Trafficking Youth Ambassador from Kenya, Nasreen Sheikh, a widely-respected advocate for survivors, and Kevin Hyland, the former UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner. These aim to provide a deeper and holistic understanding of the different facets of human trafficking, and how to fight this phenomenon. 


Three awards will be presented: The Common Good Award, presented by Arise Founding President, John Studzinski CBE; The Servant Leadership Award, presented by UISG President, Sr. Mary Barron, OLA; and the Human Dignity Award, announced by the Associate Vice President of Program Operations at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D. The three laureates will be welcomed on stage with short documentaries showcasing their important work, before they address the room. The event will be livestreamed on the following channel: https://www.youtube.com/@UISGRome


Sisters as key actors in the fight against human trafficking in the world


Human trafficking is the process by which people are coerced or lured by false prospects, recruited, relocated, and forced to work and live in exploitative or abusive conditions. It is a phenomenon, as warned by recent United Nations reports, in continuous and dramatic evolution.


For the past decades, the Church, and in a special way religious congregations and Sisters, have dedicated passion and courage to contribute to the end of human trafficking in the world. At the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis declared: “I reaffirm here that the ‘trade in people’ is a vile activity, a disgrace to our societies that claim to be civilized! Exploiters and clients at all levels should make a serious examination of conscience both in the first person and before God! Today the Church is renewing her urgent appeal that the dignity and centrality of every individual always be safeguarded, with respect for fundamental rights, as her social teaching emphasizes”.  Most recently, in the document Dignitas Infinita, the Church reaffirmed that “the Church and humanity must not cease fighting against such phenomena.”  


In many parts of the world, religious Sisters are on the frontlines in the fight against human trafficking. A foundational belief in the dignity of every person and service of the Common Good inspires their passion and guides their actions. Sisters are often uniquely positioned in remote areas, otherwise out of reach. They are embedded in and trusted by their communities – key to effective anti-trafficking work. Their anti-trafficking activities include prevention, accompaniment of at-risk groups, victims, and survivors of human trafficking, collaborating with key stakeholders, and conducting effective advocacy (with parliaments and development organizations) to yield systemic change and address the root causes of exploitation.


Human trafficking is a networked crime requiring a networked response. Sisters meet the need for networks to an exceptional degree, as part of congregations and the global Catholic community.


As part of a wider effort to eradicate human trafficking, the SATAs seeks to raise the profile of the phenomenal contribution of Catholic Sisters against human trafficking, to share knowledge and foster further collaborative anti-trafficking efforts between congregations and across the anti-trafficking sector as a whole and to broaden and deepen the protection of communities vulnerable to trafficking worldwide.


The inaugural SATAs was held in London on the 31st of October 2023: the three laureates were Sr. Seli Thomas, SMI (India), Sr. Françoise Jiranonda, SPC (Thailand), and Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, SSL (Nigeria). More information available on this link: https://www.satawards.com/2023 

The celebration is hosted by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Arise Foundation, and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).

Arise is an anti-slavery NGO working across the world to protect communities from exploitation. Arise believes that frontline groups and their networks hold the key to ending slavery and human trafficking. Arise provides funding and training to Catholic Sisters and other frontline workers, builds anti-slavery networks, commissions relevant research, amplifies frontline voices and advocates for change.

Martin Foley, CEO of the Arise Foundation, shares: “The SATAs is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the incredibly effective anti-trafficking work of Sisters around the world. Arise is privileged to work alongside these dedicated Sisters. We hope that this year's SATAs will serve as a reminder to governments around the world, businesses and others, that efforts to eradicate this crime must draw upon the unique knowledge and effectiveness of Catholic Sisters.”

The International Union of Superiors General (UISG) aims to build bridges and develop networks in order to create different ways for religious Sisters to communicate across geographical distances, different languages and cultures in order to be in communion with one another and build a global community together. It has a worldwide membership of 1903 leaders of feminine religious congregations. The UISG established and supports Talitha Kum, the international network of religious Sisters against human trafficking. Talitha Kum is constituted of more than 55 networks in nearly 90 countries, actively supporting victims, survivors and people at risk.

Sr. Patricia Murray, IBVM, UISG Executive Secretary, declares: “The ministry of anti-trafficking and the creation of Talitha Kum had its beginnings in a presentation given in Rome by Sr. Lea Ackerman, MSOLA, in December 1998. It shows the impact of one prophetic voice. Since then, thousands of sisters worldwide have received formation so that they can work with others to counteract this grievous wound on the body of humanity.  We celebrate the three sisters receiving the SATA awards and acknowledge that they are wonderful examples of the courageous dedication of many sisters and their collaborators who have been involved in prevention, rescuing, rehabilitation and reintegration for many decades. May they inspire others ‘to open their eyes and ears to see those who go unseen and to hear those who have no voice, to acknowledge the dignity of each person, and to fight trafficking and all forms of exploitation’ (Pope Francis )."

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic Sisters. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $6.7 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $3 billion, $435 million worldwide in 2022.

Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D, said “we stand in solidarity with Catholic Sisters as they courageously confront the scourge of human trafficking. Through advocacy, survivor support, and community education, they shine a light on this dark reality. Together, we work to prevent further harm, educate on prevention strategies, and offer comprehensive support to survivors on their journey toward healing and restoration.”


Cecile Rudacogora

We thank all those who are committed for the welfare of human beings struggling to eradicate human trafficking. Thanks to all those who support them in this noble mission.

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