With generous support from Walmart Foundation, Issara Institute has been able to invest intensively in supporting an exciting, emerging civil society network in Myanmar aiming to improve trafficking victim services and make a measurable reduction in exploitative recruitment.  Trade unions, faith-based organizations, grassroots rights groups, and research and advocacy NGOs working across the country have joined forces to connect jobseekers across Myanmar with ethical recruitment agencies, cut out exploitative middlemen, and shift the paradigm of the victim services framework from (over)protection to empowerment.

Cambodia is next, in 2019!


Increased control and mastery, meaning that people are better able to deal with the forces that affect their lives and have greater capacity to deal with the day-to-day challenges of life without being overwhelmed by them.


NEW!  Psychometric Measures of Empowerment and Disempowerment of Survivors of Human Trafficking: Developing and Piloting Tools to Assess the Positive and Negative Impacts of Post-Trafficking Interventions and Environments on Trafficked Persons

Working with 11 of our CSO-NET post-trafficking service providers in Myanmar, we developed and piloted a tool to assess the impacts of our interventions, other interventions, and environment on empowerment (or disempowerment) of returned trafficking survivors.  This report contains the findings around the piloting of the tool itself, and the nature of attempting to measure 'empowerment' as an alternative outcome measure for post-trafficking services, as well as the empowering and disempowering factors in the lives of the participants.

Burmese and Thai language versions available too! 


To request a hard copy to be sent via mail, please email info@issarainstitute.org.

Issara 2018 psychometric measures report


The process of ethical recruitment involves a significant number of actors in different levels starting from jobseekers, to recruitment agencies, to businesses, and then to buyers. Understanding the risks jobseekers can face during the first mile of the process of recruitment and in its efforts to mitigate those risks and generate changes in the behaviour, Issara Institute, along with its 15 grassroots partners from the Myanmar CSO Network to End Trafficking - CSO-NET - started implementing a plan to educate and empower migrant workers. Issara Institute and the CSO-NET educate jobseekers and returnees about their rights, the do's and don’ts in the countries of destination, and the costs, timeframes, and processes to migrate through legal channels. In addition, by introducing our Golden Dreams smartphone app,  migrant workers can access all relevant information they need to migrate and they can request for further assistance if needed. Issara Institute and CSO-NET have further created a network of over 500 ambassadors, primarily seasoned returnees and engaged community organizers, located in 12 states and regions (53 townships) in Myanmar.


Stay tuned for our next research explorations into empowerment and ethical recruitment!  In 2019 we aim to understand to what extent our work in the context of ethical recruitment has empowered jobseekers, and how that has impacted their labour outcomes.

MORE RECOMMENDED READING on why empowerment matters

Please see the 2 Issara reports below from 2017 as recent analyses related to the empowerment of exploited workers, including victims of trafficking.  The May 2017 report Towards Demand-Driven, Empowering Assistance for Trafficked Persons includes analysis of 117 cases from Issara Institute's pioneering Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) pilot for trafficked persons in Thailand and Myanmar, examining which services and protections trafficked persons chose when given a choice.  Among 21 specific needs, the top two needs prioritized by trafficked persons were the need to find secure employment, and the need for support in legal proceedings to obtain compensation for lost wages.  Interestingly, less than 1% of the cases had any interest in being a part of a criminal justice process, due to the burden often placed on victims, lack of freedoms, and low chances of success.

The June 2017 report From Trafficking to Post-Rescue: Insights from Burmese Fishers on Coercion and Deception in (Anti)Trafficking Processes delves deeper into the experiences of a group of fishermen as interviewed by Olivia Tran, from the University of Ottawa.  The men highlighted the concerning parallels between the coercion and deception they faced in the hands of traffickers, and similar coercion and deception they faced in the hands of some government, UN, and NGO anti-trafficking responders.  There is a lot we can learn about how both 'safe migration' and 'victim support' services and programs could be considerably more effective and rights-based, if they were more oriented toward empowering jobseekers and trafficked persons.

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Issara Institute, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States, and a registered non-profit foundation in Thailand.  All donations are tax deductible.

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Educating prospective migrants and linking them directly to registered recruitment agencies and information about costs and processes of recruitment