Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda

Founding President and Executive Director, Visayan Forum Foundation

Skoll Awardee


Cecilia or “Nanay Day” to the survivors Visayan Forum cares for, is a globally – celebrated social entrepreneur and human rights activist. She is renowned for her courage and relentless pursuit of a society where people are free to explore opportunities without the risk of being exploited, abused, or enslaved.

A Freedom Fighter even in her youth, Cecilia dedicated her life to ending modern slavery by fighting for the Filipino people’s liberation from the tyranny of the Marcos regime, and eventually founding Visayan Forum after her release from being a political prisoner. Since then she has successfully established global best practices to fight human trafficking.

She is an Anti-Slavery Awardee, a Trafficking in Persons Hero, a Modern day Slavery Abolitionist, the recipient of the first Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor, an Awardee of the World Children’s Prize and the 2013 Reuter’s Trustlaw Connect Impact Awardee. In 2013, Cecilia’s journey with survivors fighting to end modern slavery was featured by The CNN Freedom Project in a full-length documentary entitled “The Fighters".

Cecilia is appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines as women's sector representative to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, a high-level policy making body tasked to oversee the country's anti-trafficking policies and programs.

In 2015, she was named a Child10 Awardee by Reach for Change for her work in advancing children's rights by fighting child trafficking. She was a finalist for the Anti-Trafficking Award given by Trust Women of Thomson Reuters.

Cecilia fervently believes that we can end human trafficking and modern slavery in this generation.