What is Dressember's Place?
I used to feel like what I was doing to end human trafficking just wasn’t enough. I wasn’t on the front lines performing rescue operations or helping women who had been victims regain their dignity. No, I was just a measly freshman in college. Then I heard about Dressember, a movement that asks you to wear a dress every day to raise awareness and funds. This was the opportunity to empower victims of human trafficking that I had been looking for. With only a few weeks before December 1st, and a less than stellar array of dresses I joined a movement that has now raised millions of dollars.
So what is Dressember's place in the fight to end human trafficking?
Dressember’s goal isn’t to simply put a dress on every day for a month. To better grasp what the purpose of Dressember is you must look at who is wearing the dress. We understand that every person, no matter what their job title may be, is capable of advocating on the behalf of human trafficking survivors. Dressember takes great pride in collaborating with organizations that are already doing phenomenal work to bring an end to human trafficking.
Dressember fights human trafficking through strategic grants that we give to our partners. Is it possible that creating grants can be as equally beneficial as performing big-scale rescue operations? We think so. Since 2013 we have been able to award over $5 million to our partners, enabling them to continue their fight against human trafficking. Through advocacy, collaboration, and utilization of our unique skills we are able to provide for our partners so that they can provide for victims of trafficking.
International Justice Mission (IJM), the first of Dressember’s partners, is the world’s largest anti-trafficking organization in the world. They work to protect the poor from violence in the developing world with a vision to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible.” By working with local law enforcement, they are able to aid in restoring broken systems, bringing criminals to justice, and representing survivors in their cases.
Dressember's second grant partner is A21. With 12 locations in 11 countries around the world, A21 uses a mix of teams and volunteers to execute their mission to reach, rescue, and restore lives. Some of A21’s locations focus on active victim intervention, while the others provide restorative aftercare to address the needs of those rescued. To effectively reach victims and disrupt demand, A21 uses a dynamic education program where events, presentations, and resources are used to engage audiences all over the world. Through education that seeks to highlight the impact of human trafficking, A21 works to prevent slavery from ever happening in the first place.
The McMahon/ Ryan Child Advocacy Center (CAC), Dressember’s most recent partner and our first domestic partner, provides safety for children in abusive situations. The McMahon/ Ryan CAC works directly with law enforcement, medical teams, social workers, and more to ensure every child is receiving specialized care that is helping them move toward justice.
All three of these organizations have similar goals in mind, but each of them operates in a unique way. Combating injustice is a job that begins and ends in the often overlooked areas. It involves paperwork, sitting in an office, organizing events in hometowns, and advocating on social media. It can be far too easy to look at the big jobs being done by each of these organizations and forget that it takes people of all occupations to make rescues and rehabilitation happen. Education, awareness, and advocacy are imperative in ending human trafficking too.
Dressember shares the same passion and drive for aiding the oppressed, but we help in a way that is unique to us. Our partnerships reach even farther than the three listed above. We also creatively collaborate with businesses such as Elegantees, who offers dresses handmade by victims of human trafficking. Poverty is a factor that increases an individual’s risk of being re-trafficked and by providing a fair and living wage, Elegantees is giving women a chance at freedom. They have been monumental in helping us create the Dressember Dress Collection and through their partnership we have been able to increase demand for their products, which in turn, increases the amount of women they are able to hire.
Empowering victims of human trafficking can feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. At Dressember we understand that creating awareness isn’t everything, but it is the beginning of knowing how to do better. We need people of every occupation standing boldly together in order to bring an end to human trafficking. Whether you’re working on the front lines, educating your coworkers, or fundraising on behalf of victims, you have the ability to say yes to ending modern slavery.
About the Author
Sonsee Jenkins is a lover of animals (big and small), hand lettering, and writing. Her experiences include rehabilitating raccoons, writing for her school’s humanity department, and advocating for the oppressed. She attends a small university in Northeast Indiana and hopes to use her degree (and all her time working up to it) to help end human trafficking.