Impact, growth and women. These are the three words that best define 2013 at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
TrustLaw, our service connecting NGOs and social enterprises with lawyers offering free legal assistance, has grown exponentially. In 2013, we made a significant impact in India, with 200 registered members. We also expanded in China - where we now have 10 law firms – and in Brazil and South Africa, hiring staff to facilitate the recruitment of both law firms and organizations that benefit from the service.
Trust Women, our flagship conference dedicated to putting the rule of law behind women’s rights, brought together top decision makers in the fields of law, finance, business, technology and government, reaching 1.5 million people through social media. Participants took 32 strong commitments to action.
As a direct result of Trust Women 2012, together with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, I co-hosted a working group to encourage some of the biggest banks in the USA to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. The financial institutions accepted to share suspicious data with law enforcement agencies, and the working group issued international guidance aimed at helping the wider financial communities to identify and report irregularities in financial transactions that might be linked to human trafficking. The Thomson Reuters Foundation distributed the document to a select number of top financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and anti-trafficking NGOs.
In 2013, we have also expanded our journalism programme. We have now a team of 27 reporters dedicated to covering the world’s under-reported stories. These are the issues that the mainstream media often forget: human rights abuses, women’s rights, the human impact of climate change, and the social damage created by corruption. Our women’s rights coverage was recognised with the prestigious SOPA Award, and our climate change coverage won the Asian Environmental Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting.
We also continue to train reporters around the world. In 2013, we trained journalists in countries including Benin, Suriname, South Sudan, Myanmar, Laos, Mongolia and Afghanistan. Our mission is to foster excellence in journalism by offering skills that can strengthen independent good quality journalism around the world, and by setting up independent news platforms, such as Aswat Masriya, in Egypt.
So what’s coming up in 2014? The Foundation is going to step up efforts in the global fight against human trafficking with the development of a high-impact programme across India. TrustLaw will continue to spread the practice of pro bono around the world, and our journalists will investigate pressing issues such as the global battle for water, the right for women to own land, and women’s access to finance. Exciting times. Watch this space.
CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation