By Julie Crothers
Goshen News, Ind.
Elkhart native Jenny McGee has told the story of Starfish Project thousands of times.
She’s shared stories of women who came to large cities in Asia from the countryside, sometimes traveling 20 to 40 hours by train to find jobs to support their families.
She’s discussed the economic challenges the women face and the insufferable situations they encounter.
And she’s talked about the work she and her co-workers have done to help those women transform their futures.
But it isn’t often that she shares the story with a group of people dedicated to helping women across the globe from offices located at the United Nations.
On Tuesday, McGee joined five other panelists at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to discuss ending human trafficking and the exploitation of women as part of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
The session, which will review progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, began Monday and will continue through March 20 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The declaration aimed to advance women’s rights and tackle issues such as women and poverty, violence against women and access to power and decision-making.
McGee said Tuesday’s panel included the “whole spectrum” of human trafficking, from people trained to recognize trafficking to organizations that work to assist victims of exploitation.
The panelists ranged from international law and policy expert Dr. Tuula Nieminen to Jane Townsley, an inspector with the British Transport Police, and from Patience Ashorkor Quaye, the head of an anti-human trafficking unit in Ghana, to the John Temple, the first ever chief of the Human Trafficking Response Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.