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Youth Initiatives in North America: Training Canadian University Students at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

For almost three years, the Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale (The Action Committee against Domestic and International Human Trafficking - CATHII) has been passing on its discoveries and knowledge on the problem of human trafficking to future generations through the CATHII-University-UN project. It offers training to students from Quebec universities on the factors that led to the creation of CATHII, its advocacy actions with local and international allies, and the different forms of trafficking.

With trainers from both academic and community circles, the project proposes elements of understanding, taking into account structural and systemic effects, in order to better recognize trafficking and its various forms of exploitation. This training equips project students to participate fully in sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March in New York at the United Nations. 

Subsequently, over the past three years, more than 30 students from different programs and fields - social work, psychology, criminology, public affairs and international relations, law, political science, and anthropology - have been trained and have participated in the CSW!  The training covered several key elements: the definition and different forms of human trafficking, the Palermo Protocol, the Canadian legislative framework on trafficking, a presentation of the Nordic model, the different UN bodies, advocacy and a presentation of the different actors and partners of the CATHII - such as the Coalition québécoise contre la traite des personnes (Quebec Coalition against the trafficking of persons), the Talitha Kum network and UNANIMA International. 

In 2023, a greater number of university academics attended the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), the United Nations' largest annual gathering on gender equality and women's empowerment. This global gathering took place from March 6 to 17, 2023, on the theme "Innovation, technological change and education in the digital age to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".

Here are a few comments from the participants:

« Participating in this project allowed us to realize the extent and seriousness of this problematic that we thought was far from home».

« This project with CATHII has allowed us to see and better understand the issues related to human trafficking at the local, national, and international level. We had the chance to discuss with people actively involved in the fight against human trafficking who, over the course of the discussions, provided us with new knowledge on the subject, leading us to review our definition of human trafficking as well as its vision. »

"Many things surprised us, especially the different forms of human trafficking. We were also surprised by the latent presence of trafficking in Quebec (Canada), especially in the agricultural sector when foreign workers are hired. To our astonishment, this crime is also very difficult to identify, and governments provide few resources to help people at risk of trafficking."

"It is pertinent to add that increased awareness of this subject is of great importance when it comes to the prevention, identification and perception of human trafficking.  CATHII has fulfilled its mission very well in initiating this training by sharing their knowledge and skills. We sincerely thank CATHII for this wonderful collaboration!

« The last months spent with the CATHII team will certainly be useful to us in our future careers as well as in everyday life. It is now our turn to raise awareness and inform other women, men and children about what human trafficking really is and what is at stake. »


Through this project, CATHII, a pioneering organization on the issue of human trafficking in Quebec and Canada, is passing on to future generations its discoveries and knowledge on the issue, to continue the collective struggle to put an end to trafficking and exploitation. Again, this year, it is with a sense of gratitude that I continue to deepen my learning about trafficking as the person in charge of this project.


By Kavitha Culasingam

CATHII-University-UN Project Manager


December 19th, 2023