How You Can Use Your College Major to Fight Human Trafficking
It is easy to see how certain college majors can be used to fight human trafficking. We hear appealing stories of lawyers fighting hard in field offices, agents going undercover to conduct rescue operations, and social workers walking through recovery programs with victims. But what happens if your heart is called to fight these injustices, but it doesn’t seem like your major lines up with your call to action? This was something Dressember founder, Blythe Hill, dealt with during her college years.
“When I started hearing about human trafficking, I felt an urgency to do something to stop it. The problem was my interests and talents didn’t seem to line up with making a difference. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a psychologist. I’m someone who's interested in fashion, trend analysis, wordplay, and blogging. My interests felt shallow in the grand scheme of things,” Blythe explained in the Dressember origin story.
Blythe worked through those feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy, and through a simple idea to wear a dress every day for a month, a global movement fighting for justice and dignity was born. Though some college majors or interests may have a more direct and clear path to fighting human trafficking, likely, whatever your major is can be used in some way. The sweet spot is finding where your passion and your skills collide. How can I use what I am good at to make a difference for the issue that I am passionate about?
In this post, we will explore ways that varying categories of college majors can be used to fight human trafficking. This isn’t a comprehensive list, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see your major below. All it takes is a little brainstorming to turn your interests into a catalyst for change.
A Law Degree
Because human trafficking isn’t just a one-time occurrence, but a system of injustice, those studying law are trained to address the system as a whole. International Justice Mission, Dressember's first partner, employs many lawyers in order to fight human trafficking. As they fight human trafficking by rescuing, restoring, restraining, and representing, they make sure to identify weaknesses in the justice system, to keep the same patterns of injustice from happening all over again.
A Social Work Degree
Social workers play a huge role in the restoration of trafficking victims. Not only are they able to walk victims from darkness to healing, but they have the knowledge to be able to better identify victims of trafficking when cases, especially those involving youth, come their way.
A Communications Degree
These majors are the storytellers, fundraisers, researchers and more (I’ll try not to sound too biased here). You can get involved by marketing for companies who provide incomes to trafficking victims. You can help non-profits, such as Dressember, fundraise. You can use your writing skills to help victims share their stories. You can provide the currency of media attention to issues surrounding human trafficking. There are so many ways to use communication and media to stop human trafficking. We on the Dressember editorial team are using these exact skills and passion about ending exploitation to generate blog content.
An Education Degree
One of the biggest risk factors of being trafficked is actually a lack of knowledge on human trafficking. Many organizations, such as The Freedom Story in Thailand, use education and knowledge as a preventative method, to keep children from ever becoming victims in the first place. Teaching skills are also a great way to get you in the door to working cross-culturally. Many who are in long term work in another culture spent their first year teaching English.
An Environmental Degree
It is important to remember that there can be indirect causes of human trafficking, such as environmental injustice. When villages are burned and rivers are dammed, people are forced to migrate irregularly. Without a permanent home or stable livelihood, many are exploited trying to earn an income. There is also human trafficking taking place on fishing boats, in mines, and other things connected to the environment. Majors with a focus on the environment can have a hand in preventing environmental destruction and irregular migration, and can also help find sustainable incomes for those who are forced to move, options other than exploitation.
A Medical Degree
Similar to an education major, medical students have great opportunities to join in the fight. Not only are medical professionals apt to identify physical signs of human trafficking, but they can also help educate to stop the spread of diseases, such as HIV, amongst victims of trafficking.
A Business Degree
Businesses such as Elegantees, Sseko, Noonday, Trades of Hope etc… Just take a look at the Dressember brand partners and it is easy to see how business can have an impact on stopping exploitation. The more fair trade and socially conscious businesses rise up, the better. What better way to use your business major but to help with the success of these movements.
A Technology Degree
Tech innovation is now at the forefront of stopping child sexual exploitation. Finding better ways to identify victims, disrupt platforms of exploitation, and deter predators are all ways in which majors focusing on technology can create change. Just watch Ashton Kutcher’s plea to the US Senate on behalf of his tech organization, Thorn. He describes being heartbroken seeing a young girl exploited through the internet. These are the exact cases technology has the power to enable or put an end to trafficking.
These are just a few examples of how certain majors could potentially be used to fight human trafficking. Even if your major isn’t listed here, my best advice to you is not to major in something you aren’t passionate about or good at, just so you can make a difference. Just the opposite. You will best be used for the cause where your interests, passions, and skills can flourish. Whoever you are, whatever you are studying, I hope you will choose to join us in the fight.
You don't have to wait until December to be a part of the impact. Join the Dressember Collective and become part of a powerful community of advocates and donors furthering the work and impact of the Dressember Foundation through monthly giving.
About the Author
Reagan Swier enjoys fashion, food, travel, writing, and more. She believes that all of those passions (and your passions too!) can be used to advocate for social justice and create a better world for future generations. Currently, she studies at a small university in Oregon, where she helps lead her school’s IJM (International Justice Mission) chapter. She enjoys the creative scene of the Portland area, which inspires her writing and feeds her passion for social entrepreneurship.