Grace is a founding director of Walk Free, an international human rights group focused on the eradication of modern slavery. Since its formation in 2011 it is now one of the leading anti-slavery organisations in the world.
Grace has spent extensive time working in South East Asia and the Middle East, using photography and storytelling to share the stories of survivors of modern slavery, with a current focus on refugee communities. She regularly represents Walk Free at international forums, including events at the United Nations and at the Vatican.
Grace is a director of the Minderoo Foundation, recently joined the board of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and previously worked at the Legatum Institute as a research analyst on global people movement.
In 2018, Grace was appointed The United Nations Association of Australia’s youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador for Anti-Slavery. That same year Grace was awarded Nomi Network’s Abolitionist award for her work to end modern slavery and won the GQ Australia’s award for Humanitarian of the year.
You can follow Grace on Instagram @graceaforrest
Organizational Description: Modern slavery is a complex and often hidden crime that affects 40.3 million men, women, and children globally. No country is immune; it occurs both in developing nations and in some of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Walk Free is an international human rights organisation working to end all forms of modern slavery. We work to achieve this through a multifaceted approach that includes building a robust knowledge-base to inform action, driving legislative change in key countries, harnessing the power of businesses and faiths, and funding organisations that deliver intervention programs. Walk Free is the creator of the Global Slavery Index, the world’s leading data set on modern slavery.
In 2018, together with Yeonmi Park, Grace and the Walk Free team published some of the first research on slavery in North Korea, showcasing the systemic abuse of the world’s most repressed people. That same year, Walk Free successfully campaigned for the implementation of an Australian Modern Slavery Act, only the second legislation of its type in the world.
Although modern slavery affects people in every corner of the globe regardless of race, gender, religion, and socio-economic status, females are disproportionately affected. Nearly one in every four victims (71%) is a female. In fact, women and girls outnumber male victims across most forms of slavery, accounting for 59% of those in forced labour, 84% in forced marriage, and 99% in forced sexual exploitation.
A key feature of the experiences of female victims is sexual violence across all forms of modern slavery. Addressing the broader patterns of human rights abuses that disproportionately affect women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence and discriminatory beliefs and practices around access to property, education, and citizenship, are critical if we are to reduce the risk of modern slavery. Walk Free supports programs in Ethiopia, India and Nepal which target the risks and vulnerabilities faced by women and girls.