By Sergio P. Ermotti, Group Chief Executive Officer at UBS
We've just published the 2017 Annual Review of the UBS Optimus Foundation this week. It's worthwhile reading and provides a number of facts and statistics documenting our impact. One way, however to truly understand what the foundation does is to shine a light on the work of the programs it supports. I had a chance to visit one of these programs in India earlier this year.
India is a captivating country to visit. Yet sometimes it can be challenging to reconcile the extremes. It's a place where you'll meet highly skilled, talented and motivated people. But it's also a global hub of human trafficking with almost half the world's victims of modern-day slavery, estimated at 18.3 million1 – the majority of whom are young women and girls.
In March of this year I got the chance to visit Justice and Care in Bangalore – one of our child-protection partners that works to reduce the prevalence of the problem while rescuing victims and those at risk of child sex trafficking. The women and children at the rehabilitation center are resilient and courageous. They want to stop the social stigma they face, and are hopeful that things are going to get better. Hearing their stories, I was pleased to see the extent that they've benefited from this initiative. Some of the girls want to become lawyers, others to join the police to prevent others from falling victim. Their thought processes are such "whatever I have faced, let other girls not". Some survivors even mentor others as they prepare to adjust to life after this trauma.
India has demonstrated the political will to tackle human trafficking, but change is slow. We're seeing improvements in policy and support networks for those affected, but the system is overwhelmed. So we hope that our partnership with Justice and Care, combined with our innovative approach and expertise in philanthropy, will help accelerate progress. But more needs to be done to bring perpetrators to justice and support the rehabilitation of rescued children and their families, as well as to emphasize prevention in “hot spot” areas. As we tackle this problem through the UBS Optimus Foundation (UBSOF), we need people, like you, to continue to stand with us in changing the odds for the children and young women affected.
I also want to emphasize how important it is to reflect on what we already achieved. Last year alone we raised CHF 61 million and reached 2.1 million children in the areas of child health, education and protection. This outstanding performance is testament to the generosity and compassion of you and our clients, the passion and professionalism of our UBSOF team, and the hard work and dedication of our inspiring partners in the field. I feel confident that our approach of partnering with philanthropists, organizations and governments will continue to be hugely beneficial in tackling the greatest social issues.
Sergio P. Ermotti, Chairman of the UBS Optimus Foundation Board of Directors
Disclaimer | UBS Optimus Foundation collaborates with investors, service providers and others, but such relationships are not partnerships in the legal sense of the term and nothing in this document should be construed as giving rise to such an inference.
© UBS 2018. The key symbol and UBS are among the registered and unregistered trademarks of UBS. All rights reserved.