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Power of Women fights human trafficking with fashion

The 2016 Power of Women fashion show featured the work of handpicked local designers and entrepreneurs. | Credit: Dana Kittaneh

A local group is bringing global and regional fashion to the stage on Sunday in an effort to fight human trafficking.

Created in 2016, Power of Women is a local organization dedicated to improving the lives of those in need through leadership, charity and mentorship. This year, the group will partner with Fashion Week Columbus and The Switch, a Columbus-based anti-human trafficking organization, to put on the second-annual event.

“I started [Power of Women] last year as a platform for talented and driven women to confront the issues facing society locally and globally.” said Fairuz Ali, the founder of POW.

Last year, Ali said she handpicked local designers and entrepreneurs to participate, but for this year’s show, an array of top industry designers will be involved. The lineup includes Sierra Leone native Salai Kamara’s line, The African Accent, along with works from French impressionist-inspired designer Moneé Pastel and storytelling designer Eman Idil Bare.

The organization aims to create an entertaining atmosphere while raising awareness for one of the most crippling issues in the world: human trafficking.

In 2017 alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 191 cases of human trafficking in Ohio and 4,460 across the U.S.

Ali said she seeks to set their event apart by providing awareness in an exciting way.

“I’ve been to so many events in Columbus where I’ve been like, ‘Did I really pay money for this?’ I never want my audience to feel that way,” she said.

After hearing about The Switch founder Marlene Carson’s personal story of being trafficked at 15 years old, Ali said she was immediately captivated. Now, one of her goals for the show is to invite attendees to get involved in the fight against human trafficking.

“It’s important that POW does shows like this,” said Carson, who has a doctorate in theology and is a certified life coach. “It brings together an audience that may not be attuned to the gravity of this issue.”

Ali also said she believes that with proper education, the younger generation can be a driving force in ending human trafficking. Through the fashion show, she hopes attendees will be exposed to high-end fashion, made aware of a crisis affecting our society and be empowered to make a change.

“I believe their voice, their energy, their knowledge of social media is what we need,” Carson said. “If people want to get involved they will be given concrete ways to do so.”

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.powerofwomenohio.org. Proceeds from the fashion show will be split between Fashion Week Columbus and The Switch.

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