WPO briefings and meetings

Trafficking of women and girls, Courtney's House Director Tina Frundt visits APA, 2013 End Violence Against Women International Conference and other updates.

Trafficking of women and girls: A human rights crisis

On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, Sonia Sherry attended a Clearinghouse on Women's Issues brown bag session on the "Trafficking of Women and Girls: A Human Rights Crisis" in Washington, D.C. Speakers included Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari B. Redbord, who is also the coordinator of the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force; and Priya Dhanani, director of prevention education of FAIR Girls. U.S. Attorney Redbord began the session with a presentation of statistics from cases his office is currently prosecuting. He prosecutes anywhere from six to 10 cases of trafficking each year. Of these cases, 80 percent involve the trafficking of women and girls and the other 20 percent involves the trafficking of children. Dhanani provided a candid view of her organization’s efforts to provide basic understanding of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children and create sustainable solutions to eliminating exploitation and violence. The organization does this through increasing teens' knowledge and providing them with a deeper understanding of the true nature of sexual violence and exploitation while connecting them to some of the community-based partners of the FAIR Girls organization.

Courtney’s House Director Tina Frundt visits APA

In recognition of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, the WPO continued to work with the APA Neighborhood Opportunities for Volunteer Activities (NOVA) to coordinate a brown bag lunch featuring Tina Frundt, founder and executive director of Courtney’s House, a nonprofit organization committed to helping youth who are survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Frundt, who is also a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, trains law enforcement and other nonprofit groups to rescue and provide resources to victims. She has testified before the U.S. Congress about her own experiences and the need for greater protection and services for trafficked persons. Since 1998, Frundt and Courtney's House have helped over 500 victims escape from being trafficked.

Additionally, on April 30, 2013, APA and NOVA organized "Go Casual for Kids" day for staff. All proceeds were donated to Courtney's House and Safe Shores.

The women of the House of Representatives standing up for trafficked and exploited girls in the U.S.

On June 5, 2013, WPO intern Megan Levy attended the Women of the House event in which several women united to speak and draw attention to the sexual exploitation and trafficking of American girls across the United States. These women included congresswomen Rosa DeLauro, Renee Ellmers, Lois Frankel, Marcy Kaptur, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Marsha Blackburn, Karen Bass and Lleana Ros-Lehtinen, along with Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House of Representatives, Susan Molinari, vice president for public policy at Google, Malika Saada Saar, director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls) and Withelma "T" Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, survivor advocate and Rights4Girls board member. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro addressed how human trafficking has become the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world and a $32 billion-per-year industry. The event also focused on foster children, since they are especially vulnerable to trafficking. All agreed that child welfare employees need to be better trained and be given the proper tools in order to accurately watch for signs of trafficking. Leader Nancy Pelosi also stressed the importance of the “Our Daughters are Not for Sale” proclamation. After, all present members of the House signed the proclamation, pledging to continue to give their full support to this cause; they then encouraged all members of the House to sign it.

2013 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps: What are the implications for women’s health?

On June 4, 2013, WPO intern Megan Levy attended a briefing sponsored by Women's Policy Inc. This briefing addressed the impacts county health rankings have on communities throughout the U.S. Abbey Cofsky, the senior program officer with the Public Health Team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, moderated the briefing. Each county is ranked based on several factors including health behaviors, clinical care and social and economic factors. Bridget Caitlin, director of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, described these rankings as the products of complex data being simplified, in order to call attention to major problems. Claude-Alix Jacob, chief public health officer at the Cambridge Health Alliance, spoke of several programs being implemented in Cambridge to build a healthier community. For example, the Let’s Talk campaign, targeted at families in public housing, aims at strengthening literacy in children and improving communication between parents and children in order to foster a more supportive relationship. Sue Grinnell, office director of the Healthy Communities, Prevention and Community Health Division of the Washington State Department of Health, addressed the lack of funding for these programs and how they have to use grants in strategic ways in order to implement them. Furthermore, more women than men live in poverty and have increased stressors due to pregnancy and a higher likelihood of suffering from mental disorders, so supportive women’s programs are essential to a community.

2013 End Violence Against Women International Conference

On April 3-5, 2013, Tanya Burrwell attended the End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking in Baltimore. The conference, which brings together law enforcement, prosecutors, military officials, victim advocates, health professionals, faith-based community members, educators and others, highlights practices and emerging issues related to gender based violence, particularly sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. Plenary topics covered issues on male survivors of sexual abuse, elder abuse, supporting victims and families impacted by violence, and a military response to sexual assault. Speakers included Claudia Bayliff, JD, National Judicial Education Program; Russel W. Strand, chief, U.S. Army Military Police School; Major General Gary S. Patton, U.S. Department of Defense, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office; and Paul Greenwood, Esq., deputy district attorney, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, to name a few. For more information is on the EVAWI website.

Role models for the future

On April 10, Shari Miles-Cohen, PhD, attended an invitation-only event, "Women Inspire Innovation: Bridging the Gender Gap in the Knowledge Economy - Role Models for the Future: Swiss and American Perspectives." The conference was hosted by the Global Women’s Leadership Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. During the meeting, Cora Marrett, PhD, acting director of the National Science Foundation, encouraged representatives from the fields of engineering, technology, mathematics and information technology to look to the biological and social sciences to learn how to bridge the gender gap and bring more women in to their fields.  

Other speaker participated in a multicultural dialogue on shattering glass ceilings, overcoming challenges and bridging the gender gap in innovation. A five-minute video clip online includes highlights of each speaker's presentation, including opening remarks from Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager and remarks from psychologist Andrea Burri. Please click on each speaker’s name below to view their presentation.

 U.S. speakers:


Swiss speakers:

  • Andrea Burri, psychologist and genetic epidemiologist, SNF Ambizione Fellow

  • Yves Flueckiger, vice-rector of the University of Geneva and former president of the program “Equality of Chances” at the Rector’s Conference of the Swiss Universities

  • Kathryn Hess Bellwald, head of the Homotopy Theory Group and director of the doctoral program in mathematics at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) 

  • Jamie Paik, head of Reconfigurable Robotisc Lab at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and member of NCCR robotics group 

Health disparities conference

On April 25-26, 2013, Miles-Cohen attended "Health Disparities Research at the Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, and Disability: A National Conference." The meeting, hosted by Project Intersect, was intended to bring together researchers, advocates and policy makers in racial and ethnic disparities and disability-related disparities to learn about barriers to health care and health promotion for people with disabilities in underserved racial and ethnic groups; to share work on health disparities at this intersection; and to discuss priorities for future research and action. One the health disparities expert panel was Gloria Krahn, PhD, MPH, director, CDC Division of Human Development and Disability, who also served on the planning committee for the APA Inequity to Equity: Improving the Health and Wellness for Women with Disabilities conference hosted by WPO and ODIP in October 2011. Patti DiSandro from the APA Health Disparities Initiative project also attended the meeting.

One billion rising

On Feb. 14, 2013, in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of V-Day, WPO Senior Director Shari Miles-Cohen, PhD, participated in a dance flash mob to raise awareness on violence against women, hosted by One Billion Rising.