To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, our team highlighted the accomplishments of a woman survivor leader working in the anti-trafficking field. We were thrilled to host Shamere McKenzie for a live conversation on Instagram to discuss her work as the CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation and what being a woman in the anti-trafficking movement means to her.
Shamere is a subject matter expert on human trafficking, an internationally recognized speaker, an activist, and a consultant. She is the Anti-trafficking Ambassador to Jamaica and a Training Manager for the National Human Trafficking Hotline at Polaris. She is also the co-chair for the Victim Services Committee of the Maryland State Human Trafficking Task Force.
During the conversation, Shamere and Shannon Gage, the Institute’s Social Media and Digital Marketing Coordinator, discussed the importance of survivor leadership and acknowledged survivor leaders who paved the way for others to have a stronger voice in advocacy work.
“When we talk about survivor leadership, we really have to talk about how it is necessary—survivors are necessary—to bring about effective change. If we are going to be effective in eradicating this issue, we have to use this collaborative effort. And that collaborative effort must be inclusive of survivors themselves—must be inclusive of individuals with lived experiences.”
When asked what being an empowered woman means to her, Shamere said, “Glass ceilings are being shattered but we still have work to do. When we look at empowered women, I believe it’s a woman who has autonomy, a woman who has choice, and a woman who has access.”
Shamere also provided a message to young girls and women:
“Believe in yourself, believe in your power to make a difference, and go confidently after those dreams.”