LIS Conference

LIS Conference

2023 Ladies in Sports Conference: High-Level Panel on Trafficking in Sports Calls for Stronger Safeguards for Women Athletes

On Friday, June 16th, 2023, Ladies in Sports successfully convened stakeholders from various walks of life, igniting a sense of urgency to combat modern-day slavery in and through sports for women athletes. The conference was held at the Marriott Hotels in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.

In today’s evolving world, women’s sport is experiencing a remarkable surge in visibility and recognition. With the growing prominence of women athletes, the spotlight illuminates their achievements and talents. However, amidst this heightened visibility, there remains a darker side to sports – one that opportunistic human traffickers exploit, drawn by the allure of financial gains. Thus, the vulnerability of women athletes becomes an unfortunate consequence of their success and the urgent need to protect them becomes paramount.

“Statistics have showed that women and girls are most affected by human trafficking globally. Subsequently, as women’s sports increasing gain grounds in the sports industry, it becomes even more pertinent for key stakeholders to take proactive steps to create a safe environment for women and girls to participate fully. We do not need another case study of victims in an industry that should aspire to inspire,” Dr. May Ikeora, an academic researcher and senior advisor to Mission 89, added.

Women’s sport is a powerful tool for promoting gender equality and empowering women. It provides opportunities for women to excel, challenge stereotypes, and shatter barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Sport is a human right.

In the words of Laurent M.J. DE BOECK, assigned Chief of Mission of IOM to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “Sport should always remain this fascinating human interrelation discipline, where people -whatever their race, origin, religion, or gender- enjoy showing the fairness of themselves, promoting partnership, connectivity and the surpassing of ourselves.”

“It should always be a place of peace and solidarity, where women and men have all a role to play for the beauty of the game. Let us make together, women and men, sport the emblem of respect, no-discrimination, and promotion of human rights. There is no place for trafficking in persons in any sports, nor anywhere else. Together, for a world free of exploitation and abuse!”

One of the objectives of the roundtable was to share knowledge and enhance the audience’s understanding of the issue of trafficking in sport.

“Every voice counts, and everyone has a role to play in the fight against human trafficking in sports, which is why panels like this are so important in raising awareness about the issue.” It is commendable that Mission 89, in collaboration with Ladies in Sports, organised this session centred on the discussion of female athlete exploitations it is a much-needed conversation, especially given the continued growth of women’s sports and the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup.” said  Ojonoka Agudah, Head of Legal & Women’s Football at INTEGRAL Sport, talent management agency dedicated to the discovery, ongoing development and management of the careers of top athletes in Africa.

Taking a proactive approach enables stakeholders in the sports industry to effectively navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and generate positive outcomes. Solving complex social challenges necessitates a commitment from multiple sectors, harnessing expertise and fostering innovation. In this regard, Mission 89 expresses great satisfaction with the resounding success achieved by the High-Panel on Trafficking in Sports.

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