Symposium: The Gendered Measurements of Slavery

15 March 2021
Research Innovation

Alice Eckstein  | Project Director - Delta 8.7

While it is generally known that 71 per cent of people living in conditions of modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour are women and girls, the various ways that gender bias are reflected in that number, and in other measurements of prevalence, are not immediately apparent. Recent research examines the ways that bias against women and girls from birth and throughout life render them more vulnerable to modern slavery than their male counterparts. In addition to looking at gendered vulnerability to modern slavery, Delta 8.7 wanted to examine how the measurements pertaining to modern slavery may reflect implicit gender bias. How does the collection of data reflect social understanding of what “labour” is, and what do large collections of administrative data say about how gender and gender expression is understood? Crucially, what story do researchers and statisticians tell about gender and modern slavery in these measurements, and what impact does that have on all victims and survivors of modern slavery – men and women, boys and girls?

In the following symposium, contributors examine these questions. From Walk Free, Davina Durgana discusses the collection of administrative data—those large-scale surveys that provide essential demographic information for vulnerability and risk assessments—and notes some recommendations for making the process of collecting such data more gender-inclusive. Jacqueline Joudo Larsen describes some ways that the gender of the data enumerator (and that of the respondent) can affect the collection of data related to sensitive matters pertaining to forced marriage and labour exploitation. Natália Suzuki, Thiago Casteli and Rodrigo Teruel from Repórter Brasil summarize a report on surveys of forced labour in Brazil that indicates measurements of forced labour can significantly mis-represent women’s experiences due to inherent bias in understanding domestic labour and labour within families. Juno Fitzpatrick and Elena Finkbeiner from Conservation International outline the prevalence of women’s labour in the fisheries sector, as well as the specific vulnerabilities and exploitation they face. Caroline Adhiambo’s contribution examines how social understanding of gendered vulnerability renders women and girls more likely to experience exploitation while denying men and boys who experience modern slavery the opportunity to seek, or receive, support.

All of the contributions to the symposium can be found below:

A Feminist Statistician’s Perspective on Gendered Limitations of Administrative Data
Davina Durgana, Walk Free Foundation
16 March 2021

The Role of Gender in Data Collection through Household Surveys
Jacqueline Joudo Larsen, Walk Free Foundation
17 March 2021

Slave Labour and Gender: Who are the Women Subject to Slave Labour in Brazil?
Natália Suzuki, Thiago Casteli and Rodrigo Teruel, Repórter Brasil
18 March 2021

Land and Sea: Gendered Nature of Labour and Sexual Exploitation in Fisheries
 Juno Fitzpatrick and Elena Finkbeiner, Conservation International
19 March 2021

Gendered Measurements of Exploitation and Their Impact on Survivors
Caroline Adhiambo, Survivor Leader
22 March 2021

All these contributions culminated in a virtual panel held on 25 March as an official Commission on the Status of Women side-event. The full recording of this event can be found below:



Delta 8.7 symposia offer experts the opportunity to discuss technical details of their research and receive commentary from the wider research and anti-slavery community. Researchers are then able to give a response to the previous commentaries received. We hope these symposia will spark further conversations and build the dialogue around research and data in the fight to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour.

Previous symposia can be found below:

The Delta 8.7 Forum

Can New US Law Help Increase Financial Recovery and Reintegration of Survivors of Human Trafficking?

Professor Barry Koch, Dr Leona Vaughn, Sarah Byrne
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Gendered Understandings of Forced Sexual Exploitation

Ellie Newman-Granger
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Forced Labour Import Bans: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?

Owain Johnstone
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Gendered Understandings of Forced Sexual Exploitation

Ellie Newman-Granger
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Domestic Slave Labour in Brazil

Maurício Krepsky Fagundes
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Indigenous Peoples and the Anti-Trafficking Sector’s Blind Spot

Miriam Karmali, Krysta Bisnauth
Continue Reading