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Celebrating the achievements of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery

June 13, 2024

At the Freedom Fund, we are deeply saddened to see the announcement by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) of its plan to conclude its operations by the end of 2024. We wish to take this occasion to celebrate it and its leadership and staff on all that they have achieved over the last decade.

Foremost among their many achievements, they led efforts to pass legislation and gain appropriation of new annual funding from the US Government for the anti-slavery field through the Program to End Modern slavery (PEMS) authorized under EMSI. To date, this has resulted in $175 million for programming in 27 countries. Additional initial funding commitments were secured from the UK and Norwegian governments

The Freedom Fund CEO Nick Grono said:

The funding environment that led to the decision by GFEMS to conclude operations is sadly reflective of a global trend. After a surge of engagement and interest in work to end modern slavery globally a decade ago, we are increasingly seeing funders – notably governments and philanthropic foundations (with some honourable exceptions) – scale back their funding of anti-slavery work. This is particularly shortsighted in a time of growing authoritarianism, proliferating conflict and accelerating climate change – all of which are driving increased refugee flows and migration globally and consequent trafficking and slavery.

We call on funders dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable and marginalised populations to recommit to efforts to tackle modern slavery globally.

I also wish to pay tribute to the very significant achievements of the GFEMS Board Chair, Jean Baderschneider, and its CEO, Sophie Otiende.

Jean has brought huge energy and vision to the anti-slavery space and showed what might be possible in terms of mobilising generous government commitments for efforts to tackle modern slavery. Her efforts have been transformative, and her legacy in the space is secured, as the founding CEO of GFEMS and as its board chair.

Sophie has brought passion and integrity and deep trafficking expertise to her role as CEO. At GFEMS, she has demonstrated what it means in practice to centre lived experience in the work of a global anti-trafficking organisation and her example will continue to influence the sector. She has much to offer the anti-trafficking space, and I look forward to working closely with her in whatever new role she chooses to pursue.


Written by
The Freedom Fund