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The Story Behind the Jacki Handbag

This is a repost from Catt Sadler's website.

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I discovered LumillaMingus earlier this year and fell in love with my first few bags.  There was this super luxurious but very wearable feel to them.  I was an instant fan.  Then I learned of Lulu's collaboration with Goop and Gwyneth Paltrow and was super impressed.  I knew I had to work with her.

With a similar aesthetic and taste, Lulu suggested a collaboration and I knew right away it was a fit! When she suggested the charity component, I couldn't refuse.  

If you decide to purchase a bag - and I hope you do - fifty percent of the proceeds go to a cause near and dear to my heart.  My mother who founded the Women Like Us Foundation, took me to Kenya a few summers ago to show me several of the schools and organizations the charity supported there.  One of them was the Olmalaika Home.  It is a space that rescues girls who are victims of FGM.  I was so moved by this place, the girls, and the woman who started Olmalaika, Kim Dewitt.  I met several young girls while I was there, but one had such an impact on me.  Jacki.  She was tall and beautiful and quiet.  She had big dreams.  Devastatingly, she fell ill earlier this year and tragically lost her life way too young.  She was only 17.  

We named our bag the Jacki bag in her memory.  There are many girls there with such bright futures and my hope is the proceeds from the sales of this bag go to sustaining the school - all made possible by my mom's work through the Women Like Us Foundation. 

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5 Women-Led Non-Profits Making a Major Impact

The number of women-led non-profit organizations are increasing every year as more and more women realize the massive need for change. These female leaders have taken the initiative to start their own organizations in the hope of helping alleviate poverty, lack of education, and sex trafficking among others. Some of these organizations include the following:

 1.      Women for Women International

The focus of this organization is to help women in countries affected by war and conflict. They have been in this non-profit organization for over 20 years. The organization recorded over 462,000 women from war-stricken countries who have been helped since 1993. They are taught skills they can use to generate income for their needs.

 2.      Movemeant

At first glance, you would think this is simply a fitness business. But Movemeant’s mission is to help women of all sizes to accept who they are and how they look. This organization helps women become more confident of themselves so they can reach their full potentials. Women are taught good, healthy habits from diet to exercise.

3.      Malala Fund

It is an organization that focuses on fighting for the futures of women and girls through education. Malala is the founder of this organization and she is from Pakistan, now traveling the world to serve others. She is an education activist who, at an early age of 11, started to speak about education for girls in her country and was almost assassinated at the age of 15. She later founded Malala Fund with her father. She now lives in the UK with her family.

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4.      Hand of Hope “ProjectGrl” of Joyce Meyer Ministries

Joyce Meyer started this project under the initiative of Hand of Hope, a Joyce Meyer Ministries World Missions, with a goal to help get women and girls off the streets and away from prostitution. The project realizes that about 80% of human and sex trafficking are composed of women and girls. The organization hopes to help lower that number because it believes that “every girl deserves the chance to blossom.”

5.      Courtney’s House

Courtney’s House was founded by Tina Frundt, a fighter for the rights of children against sex trafficking and prostitution. Tina was a sex trafficking victim herself and she understands the devastation this experience can bring to a child’s self-image, personal, and social life. Courtney’s House is a non-profit organization that is fearless in rescuing children being forced into prostitution. This nonprofit helps victims start new lives and brings awareness to the community about these issues.

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Human Slavery Makes Me Angry

A repost from Dr. Nancy O'Reilly

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It’s time for all of us to wake up and come together to end the worst of our society’s crimes against human beings. I’m talking about sex trafficking. In my conversation with Linda Rendleman, founder of Women Like Us foundation and one of my amazing Leading Women Co-authors, I was shocked to find out the sheer numbers of children here in the United States and world-wide who become victims of this horrendous crime every single year.

1.2 million girls and boys are trafficked every year. Sex trafficking is the second most profitable business in the world, taking in over a billion dollars in business every year.

This problem is at the core of our society and needs ALL of us to step up to end it. This is not a woman’s issue; it’s a human issue. It’s estimated that 30% of the children who are trafficked are boys, but that figure is probably low. Approximately 99% of the users (those who pay to have sex with these children) are men. We must all be outraged and use that anger to really make a difference.

All of us can do something. Click here to access Women Like Us crowd funding page. This campaign is working to raise money to help the women’s organizations rescue children from the streets, house them in safe places and help them become valued members of society. Any small amount will help, especially if we all help. The organizations cannot be sustainable and continue their important work without help. The need us; they need YOU in whatever small way you can contribute.

Want to report sex trafficking? Need to call for help? National Hotline is 1-888-373-7888

Each generation of children who are stolen and sold in the streets creates a new generation of prostitutes. Our children believe what they are told. If they lack self-esteem because they are not empowered with positive language and told they are amazing and can do amazing things, they look for it in potentially harmful places—online in relationships that are false and manipulative, in older boys who profess romantic love to trap immature girls into doing what they want, and with others who only want to entrap and abuse them. We must reach out to protect them with positive environments and a belief in their own precious value as free, self-reliant young women and men.

Our judicial system makes these vulnerable victims criminals and punishes them rather than the men who pay to use them and the pimps who stole them away in the first place. We must work from both ends of the problem. Linda Smith founded Shared Hope International after being introduced to sex trafficking in India, then finding out that it was so prevalent in the United States. Most shocking is that the primary victims in our country are middle-class middle school kids. And the younger the children, the more the men will pay.  Linda’s organization is working on the judicial system in every state and recruiting men to come forward in the fight and recruit others to get everyone involved in, not only legislating for and rescuing victims, but eradicating the unhealthy demand for sex with children.

I am convinced that every person we help, helps three more people. Imagine if each of us helps just one of these victims, how that will spread to make a difference in the world. Every person only wants to be loved. Reach out with your love to help end this cycle of modern-day slavery today. It is at the heart of social justice in our world and will do more for raising us all up than any other single action you can take. Help Women Like Us exceed their funding goal and support these organizations working every day to free a new generation of children.

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4 Benefits of Hosting a Salon for Awareness Building

If you think only non-profit organizations can bring awareness to the community about human and sex trafficking, various health issues, family planning, and everything in between, then it is time you understand that fighting against crimes and maintaining a healthy community is not the work of a select few but of every concerned citizen. The benefits of hosting a salon can spread out to not just the community but also to your entire city, and even farther. But what is a salon?

‘Salon’ is a term used to describe the gathering of people in one venue to listen to life-changing, motivating, eye-opening, and informative details of what is happening around you. It may be safe to say it is like a ‘support group’. A support group or salon has a goal of bringing awareness to individuals about a prevalent issue going on in a community or the world as a whole. It has the objective of helping people reach their potentials as well as keep them safe and sound wherever they are.

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Here are at least four benefits of hosting a salon for awareness building in your community, church, school, organization, or even your home.

1.      The people you care about are the first to know and you will do the favor of informing them about some issues in the community and the world that can happen to anyone. It could be a prevalent crime, sickness, or an individual situation. By hosting a salon for awareness building, you encourage individuals to be alert for their own safety as well as others’.

2.      The second benefit is you provide a support group for victims, either of a crime or a situation. You can help them stay off the streets. The support group may be the first contact they need when they fall prey to an instance of human trafficking, for example.

3.      By hosting a salon, you also open up a social and educational group where everyone can learn and contribute their ideas on fighting against human and sex trafficking, sickness, poverty, or the lack of education among others. It can mean getting outside connections to conduct seminars on “identifying sex trafficking victims”, for instance, or educational programs for war-stricken countries.

4.      Your salon can attract like-minded professionals. Those in the business sectors may offer to employ people who are part of your salon. Some schools may offer their help to educate young boys and girls who can’t afford a formal education, and so forth.

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Hope's Testimony- A Trafficked Victim's Success Story

Women Like Us Foundation supports women-led initiatives through creating awareness of their work, funding and volunteering.  The Dream Center is one of the women-led initiatives we are happy to be involved with...

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“Hope” is in her early 20’s, and has a one year old baby girl.  She came to the Dream Center Human Trafficking Program with a lot of hate towards God and severe anxiety.  She felt like God abandoned her and didn’t care.  A few years ago, she came to Los Angeles to meet up with her boyfriend.  She took the greyhound bus to Los Angeles, but when she got off, her boyfriend wasn’t there.  She started walking to a McDonalds to wait and get some food when a car drove up and pulled her into the vehicle.  Everyone’s worst nightmare became her reality.  She had been kidnapped and had no idea what the next few months would look like.  She was forced to work on the streets for about 7 months.   She had to see 8-10 dates per day and bring in a quota of $1500.  If she needed or wanted anything, she had to go through her pimp to get it.  There was no room for trying to escape from her pimp because she was constantly being watched.  She knew the consequences if she ever tried to talk back to him, express herself, or run away.  One night, a Vice Cop was working and told her he could help her get out.  They staged an arrest and were able to safely remove her from the situation.

The anxieties that she experienced from this situation lead her to paranoia and a feeling of constantly being watched.  She also suffered from the Stockholm syndrome because her perpetrators main objective was to instill in her that he was the only source of protection she would ever have.  Her fear was harsh enough that she felt her only protection was to go back.  She went back several times, and each time, this same Vice Cop would rescue her.   She was finally able to get out and stay out, but was left with some legal cases.  After two years, she was arrested on an old warrant, and her daughter was taken away from her while she completed the jail time.  A case was opened against her through DCFS, and she knew it was time to work through everything she had been through.  She heard about the Dream Center through the Vice Cop, and came without knowing what to expect. 

Since coming, she knows she has given her life back to Christ, and understands that he never left her after all.  The pain she suffered caused him pain as well, and she has never felt more connect to him than she does now.  She feels the Dream Center has given her the tools she needed to get her hope back.  Her main goal is to complete the program and get her daughter back.  She’d like to go to the family floor so she can maintain the same support she has had through the Dream Center and begin to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. 

 

                                      

 

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How to take (and reject) criticism of your views

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For most socially aware and active individuals, it can be tough to maintain relationships with those who don’t support their ideals or viewpoints. You learn to desensitize yourself to actions that upset you, stay silent when you sense that something’s wrong, restraining yourself so that others don’t feel judged and so on. In the process, you end up suppressing who you are.

Being an activist in a world that may not always support your views isn’t always easy. So it becomes all the more important that you keep the company of supportive people. You can also limit your interactions with those who make you feel like you have to change.

You can choose to tune out your family, disagree with friends, get into arguments with your partner and so on. However, what you need to keep in mind is that while you should never suppress your views, you shouldn’t do it in a manner that prevents engagement and discussion.

You can acknowledge your weaknesses and also consider what others perceive as “weaknesses” may actually be strengths. Every individual owns the right to decide their goals and digest feedback accordingly. It’s you who have to decide that which is valuable. Ignoring others’ feedback doesn’t mean you’re bad at taking criticism. How to go about that?

It’s impossible to take everyone’s feedback. You need to be judicious about the criticism to absorb and which to reject. One should develop enough self-awareness and objectivity to know the difference.

Remember that all this applies to people who espouse viewpoints unlike yours as well. There’s a difference between imposing your beliefs on others and refusing to let others impose theirs on you. You should never judge yourself based on anyone else’s ideals, just as they don’t have to judge themselves based on yours.

There are ways of objecting to others’ choices. In this respect, just because certain people find issue with your behavior, it doesn’t mean that you have to change it, as long you respect their boundaries. But no matter how problematic someone’s actions are, pointing out such issues may not always be productive. You’ve to learn to choose your battles.

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You have to know exactly when to quit. The fine line between educating somebody and forcing them against their will is hard to spot. While you can clearly and confidently state your view of someone else’s actions, it’s for them to react in way they choose. You shouldn’t try to push them to agree with you.

While you may choose to express yourself in an aggressive manner, accusations of being adversarial are very often mere tone policing, especially when directed toward women or the underserved. We shouldn’t hesitate to call out others’ actions while acknowledging their autonomy. And we definitely shouldn’t let anyone undermine our own.

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Human Trafficking and the role that the media has to play

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The media is the window for the public to many issues that we may not normally encounter, and has the ability to shape our understanding of critical topics such as human trafficking. To avoid sensationalism or bias, journalism on such issues must be balanced and well-executed. However, many modern news outlets prioritize sensationalism over fact-based coverage of trafficking.

Sex trafficking stories dealing with the victimization of women and girls disproportionately dominate news outlets and often use stylized images of women and girls in bondage as illustrations for stories. This narrative perpetuates stereotypes and misconceptions, especially the one that trafficking always involves the use of physical force or restraint. This is only likely to do more to empower traffickers than to protect would-be victims of this horrible crime.

Those concerned with human trafficking must understand the various intersecting conditions that can lead to this crime. Poverty, domestic turbulence, political unrest, natural disasters and more can all increase the likelihood of trafficking. However, very often stories are reduced to the attribution of modern slavery to a single, underlying cause. This results in failure to represent the ground realities of trafficking and the public’s awareness of its true nature.

Exploitation can assume many forms, not just the one of forcing victims into prostitution. Most victims in the U.S. are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children. Other vulnerable segments include migrant laborers, undocumented workers, young children in the welfare system or even those who travel unaccompanied.

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As with all reporting, it is essential to prioritize the privacy and safety of subjects involved. Victims of trafficking in particular remain vulnerable even after being freed from direct oppression. Discretion should always be exercised in regard to personal information about victims. Their anonymity should be prioritized as their reintegration into society can be difficult and the possibility of re-victimization is ever present.

A major challenge in the coverage of trafficking stories is a lack of corroboration. Many cases go undocumented for this reason. By showing the undeniable connection between our daily lives and modern day slavery, media can not only hold the perpetrators accountable, but also expose the role that society, consumers and governments play unknowingly in perpetuating the atrocity.

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The best hope we have of slowing this criminal enterprise is to do a better job of making people less vulnerable to traffickers.

Done well, journalism can help create an informed society, promote awareness and transparency and catalyze social pressure. All these are necessary objectives to aspire for when covering the issue of human trafficking. Only through heightened exposure in the media can modern slavery receive the visibility and traction it deserves in public discourse.

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What These Girls Want is Love-Learn more from a Sex Trafficking Prosecutor

The following is an excerpt from the latest in the Women LIke Us Book Series, Women Like Us.  Together...Changing the World.  To get the book,    purchase here

Or purchase on Amazon.

SHAUNESTTE TERRELL

What These Girls Want is Love

“I haven’t yet met one prostitute that didn’t start out as a victim of sexual abuse”

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Prostitutes Start Out as Victims

Sometimes people are under the impression that prostitution is different from sex trafficking of a minor. But I have not met one prostitute who didn’t start out as a victim of sexual abuse in some way. And, if they are older, they have just been in the system longer. They are probably more damaged, more addicted. If we confront them and they will talk to us, and give us information, we either don’t charge them or will dismiss their cases. We have to try.

It’s very rare that we have a victim immediately say “yes” to prosecution. They come from dire circumstances. They are missing something at home or they wouldn’t be so easy to exploit; no money, no dad, mom is working three jobs and is an addict, lack of supervision at home. The trafficker knows that what these girls want more than anything else in the world is love, stability, loyalty…and he coerces them into believing that he will give it to them, that he will fill the voids in their life. There was a saying I heard once that went something like, “Once you own the mind, you own the body.” This is what victimizers do. They know their victims’ vulnerabilities, they get into their victims’ minds, and they eventually control their bodies. They sell them love, sell them dreams, then they are like putty in their hands. They give them a sense of family. It doesn’t start out where it ends up.

When we rescue a victim, she is typically not cooperative at first. In the beginning, we create as much distance between the victim and the trafficker as we can. We allow them to take their time, to take time away from the situation so they can start processing what has happened to them. As time passes, they begin to realize that what they have been subjected to is wrong…what was done to them was wrong. Yet some have been through so many struggles, even outside of trafficking, they are very hardened and don’t know or can’t comprehend that they have been victimized. Their sense of self-worth doesn’t exist. This is why it is crucial to have the cooperation between local police, the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and service organizations, which solely work with sex trafficking. It is important for us to partner with facilities for at-risk youth, like a group home, where everyone understands these girls are victims, not criminals. We do not arrest them, they are not charged. Our goal is to try to help them.

People Need to Be More Aware

In my opinion the biggest problem we face in this country is lack of awareness. People don’t believe that sex trafficking takes place here: in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our cities, in our schools, in our families, in our lives. Kids are recruited through social media, they are recruited walking down the street, at bus stops, in malls, even at the playground. I have to craft my plea negotiations to look different depending on what court my case lands in. Each court has a different amount of understanding of the situation and I craft my plea agreements accordingly.

The legislation in Indiana is getting better. In fact, it’s pretty good. If a person gets charged with promotion of human trafficking of a minor in Indiana, this means under the age of 18, whether there is consent or not, most can get anywhere from 3-16 years. But the same crime in the federal system is 30 years to life. That’s why, of course, we try to get the feds involved as much as we can. I love when cases are filed federally.

Cases are also difficult to investigate and try in front of a jury due to lack of awareness. Many times the jurors are not sympathetic to the victim because the victim doesn’t fit into a nice little box. Many victims don’t have a clean background. Or they are not a part of the community, but rather are transient. Sometimes they have been involved in sexual abuse their whole lives; they have tattoos, facial piercings, they look like “losers.” And, we only get approximately 20 minutes to educate the jurors during the selection process before we start the case. Asking jurors what they know about sex trafficking in 20 minutes doesn’t allow much understanding of this topic. In the questioning, the place I have to start is asking, “What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Human Trafficking’?” 

The way the law reads in Indiana, sex trafficking is Human Trafficking. It’s a bit of a misnomer. When you say this to a jury, many think of a girl from overseas locked in a truck against her will. And that is the way it needs to be presented in the courts. But most of my cases are sex trafficked teenage girls from our own back yard who are vulnerable in many different ways and from many different situations.

The media is so important for spreading awareness. Organizations creating awareness at a grass-roots level is important. Educating our children in our schools is important. It’s all a part of protecting our kids and prosecuting the bad guys. Yet we struggle with the lack of understanding and lack of awareness in the general population. And the problem is increasing. My case load keeps growing. I have three more traffickers to charge within the next week.

Finding the Victims

We find the girls through several ways, but mostly through Backstage.com, a website that the pimps use to market the girls. For the trafficked, under-age girls, they use words like:  young, new, fresh. If they state, “no black guys,” that can be a signal they have a pimp. We look for these buzz words, look for girls who look young, set up equipment in hotels, and do as they do with adults. Then an overnight sting is set up. One of our team sets an appointment and will follow the trail. Sometimes the pimps are found parked nearby. Sometimes he signs her into a hotel and is on the registry. Once we get the agreement, that is the act. The crime of prostitution is in the agreement, not the actual act. An arrest can take place right away or sometimes it takes months.

Other resources for finding victims include 800 numbers, but honestly, since I’ve been in my position, we have not had one call on our 800 cell line. We do get referrals from Child Protective Services and we get a lot of mothers who know their daughter is at a hotel and the name of a boyfriend who took her there. We also get referrals when a social worker suspects a child is being trafficked.

I met a girl last December who was 20, on a night we picked up street walkers. They all were so messed up. They were all addicted to drugs. One girl said she had a pimp, but her mother took the pimp away from her, saying, “I’m a better hooker than you.” I hope we can stop a 13- or 14-year-old from becoming that girl I met.

Shaunestte TerrellDeputy Prosecutor Human Trafficking Division

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Why Non-Profits Need More Self Promotion

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In spite of the fact that most non profits understand the role of self-promotion in advancement of their objectives, they do not use it much. We all know we should do more of self-promotion and that we should be better at it. But at the same time, it’s much more comfortable to simply focus on doing our work. We are more or less conditioned to take the back seat and wait for recognition to come to us.

Common wisdom dictates that self-promotion is self-serving, and evendistasteful. Even when we attempt to talk of our achievements and take the deserved credit for success, doing so with confidence and conviction can be challenging.

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It is important to understand that self-promotion is a key leadership skill. It is upon you to talk about your achievements, not only for your personal benefit, but more importantly for your cause. It’s how you can create an impact and how to sell your ideas to a larger audience. It’s a way of building working relationships and gaining access to people who matter.

Self-promotion serves the purpose of letting others know of your accomplishments and objectives, and the effort you are putting in to benefit the larger cause. As much as your cause benefits from your promotional efforts, it also receives the exposure needed for further efforts and success. The organization can use previous accomplishments to initiate other projects or pursue other causes.

Realize that self-promotion is not always just about you. It’s more about your organization and the cause you believe in.

Most of us waste considerable time scrolling through social media that could be more productive in promoting our cause. In a world ruled by social media, all of us have turned into brands and we can communicate to others what we’re all about via social channels. This can be both a blessing and a curse, in that you have to be aware that everything you say, tweet, post, like, pin or follow will reflect on you.

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One of the best ways to stir up awareness and publicity for your nonprofit is to generate some favorable buzz. The most desirable mode is through word of mouth marketing that can be free (or cheap) and highly effective. In addition it’s a valid currency that spans both the online and the offline worlds, and which can put your organization clearly on the radars of a wider audience in a very positive manner.

There are quite a few things you can do to build a strong, credible personal brand. Above all, be approachable and likeable. People do not like or tolerate showoffs, preachiness or spammers, so the key is to be humble and do everything in moderation.

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How to form a network of like-minded women

As women, we do not advocate for ourselves as often as we should. However, when you work with people who have similar experiences, perspective and objectives it motivates you. With enough people cheering you on and offering you guidance, you are definitely likely to succeed. Such organizations inspire us to advocate for ourselves and support each other in that process.

There are many benefits to being in a women’s networking group. It can be a great way of building connections within your chosen field, help you gain confidence and encourage others to participate, collaborate and innovate.

It need not be too large in scale to begin with. You can start off with 10 or less members, discussing topics that concern you – handling family, progressing at work, etc. In addition to encouraging discussion and spreading awareness such initiatives can serve in developing effective skills.

The world is increasingly becoming aware of the importance of developing well rounded women leadership and close the gender gap in positions of influence. A key tool for this is networking and organization of women. The goal of such programs should be to give women the tools and resources they need while also boosting leadership skills.

Several professional organizations now conduct mentoring programs offering participants a chance to work with and build long-term relationships with mentors and help them devise goals for professional development. With support from mentors, women employees can join group members to discuss current challenges and brainstorm solutions on topics ranging from professional growth to work-life balance issues.

If you are interested in starting a networking or social program for women in your community, workplace or among friends and relations, these are the steps you need to follow:

  • Identify and form an association of like minded individuals or those with similar interests.

  • Identify and decide your common desired goals and communicate it well within the group.

  • Look to examples of other similar groups and use it to outline what your group can do, how participants can contribute meaningfully, how to balance any initiative with their individual and personal schedules, plan budgetary requirements and initiatives.

  • In choosing people to lead the group or head its initiatives, it’d be good to appoint someone with experience who can bring the needed discipline, organization and direction your group will need.

  • Ensure that the group constantly reviews their plan and goals.

  • The groups can also hold social events to raise awareness for local women’s non-profit and charity organizations.

Share the progress and instances of success within the group and encourage members to spread the word. By popularizing and promoting such initiatives you will be contributing to raising awareness and encouraging others to participate.

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The Internet Vs. Sex Trafficking - What’s at stake?

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, with the support of several prominent Republican and Democratic senators. The act increases sites’ responsibility for user content, potentially expanding criminal liability for websites.

The bill proposes a significant amendment to Section 230 (1996) of the federal Communications Decency Act. This decades-old regulation functions as the internet’s liability shield providing websites with legal immunity for their users’ posts. For instance, a social platform like Facebook or Twitter cannot be held responsible for its users’ activity.

The bill’s stated goals let state law enforcement officials prosecute companies engaged in conduct that breaks federal sex trafficking laws. This is in addition to allowing victims of sex trafficking to seek compensation from websites that enabled their victimization and also criminalize any commercial conduct that enables a violation of federal sex trafficking laws.

In short, this legislation would make it easier for the federal and state governments to punish online service providers when criminals make use of their services.

Sex trafficking or prostituting of children are horrific crimes. Most people would abhor such practices and welcome such a step. This reprehensible practice and its perpetrators deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But why are the tech companies against such a landmark legislation?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation refers to CDA 230 as “the most valuable tool for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet.” Without this protection, most of the web would no longer exist in its current form.

The most infamous misuse of this provision has been Backpage, the classifieds portal that hosted ads from sex traffickers on its adult services section. After a raid of its offices and the arrest of its CEO by the California Department of Justice in October 2016, the charges were dismissed citing CDA 230. However Backpage eventually shut down its adult services ads, citing overwhelming pressure from the government and public.

This proposed legislation may have some unintended consequences both for tech companies and the people. The proposed act can affect bloggers, news organizations and any platform that allows for public comments. If Facebook, Twitter or Google are held responsible for what users post, they would have to monitor our content and potentially even refuse to allow us to express ourselves or even remove our posts altogether. A new age of censorship.

The proposed law potentially implicates every online service that deals with user-generated content and could hit websites hard. It would directly impact the fundamental right to free speech. The tech industry and internet-rights advocates are rightly concerned about protections of free-speech platforms.

All this points to the need for the framework to evolve from its current form, but as the first step to tackling such a serious issue, it is a very much welcome one.

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Fighting human trafficking while you shop

Thanks to the increased social awareness in recent years, sex-trafficking is at the forefront of our conscience and omnipresent in the news. A dark and scary term which fails to fully represent the horror of human beings who are treated as objects for sale.

When confronted with this scenario it is easy to fall into despair or denial while tending to ask, “How can one person make a difference to a problem so huge?”

However, there is no need to despair, and there are actually a lot of ways anyone can help. The problem is really big but not insurmountable. And you can even start today, simply and easily at your own time and convenience!

Social organizations and nonprofits are stepping up their activities across the world, imparting awareness, providing skill-sets and means of income for the survivors of human trafficking, as also for the young who are at high-risk for trafficking. Some of these organizations raise funds through merchandise.

Your contribution to making a difference can start off by simply choosing to shop differently. It can be as simple as going to your big-box discount store or retailer. Instead, opt for one of the numerous organizations offering many of the same things, being made by women who are striving to support themselves with dignity.

Purchasing products from such organizations may mean some who can go to bed safely tonight and wake up in order to earn a living for themselves, the honorable way. These women will now be able to support themselves with a trade and thus less likely to become victims of trafficking. Beneficiaries of your actions will now be able to support themselves with dignity.

Several major global companies have committed to the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT) and are determined to take a proactive approach to end human trafficking, which remains widespread and difficult to uncover.

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act requires certain companies to report on their specific actions to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. In addition, the NGO KnowTheChain encourages greater corporate understanding of the said act. It benchmarks companies in a variety of industries to help inform investor's decisions and it also provides tools and resources to help companies be in compliance with both this act and the UK Modern Slavery Act.

All this makes sound business sense as well — With increased demand supply too has to keep up. There are more and more ethical shopping options out that go ABOVE and BEYOND by playing a part in the fight to end modern day slavery. It’s time to vote with your dollars!

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The Secret to Being a Successful Leader - Emotional Intelligence

Quite a few professionals struggle at being good leaders and have trouble understanding why. After all they work hard, are successful in their fields and communicate with their direct reports in a comprehensive and clear manner. However, these associates never seem quite satisfied, engaged or most importantly: productive. Something definitely seems amiss.

In most cases, the problem starts with how new leaders make the draw – on the basis of their expertise and satisfactory job performance. These criteria do make perfect sense - but are not enough by themselves. The third requirement - emotional intelligence is often neglected but is as crucial for good management.

Lack of Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever witnessed someone have a meltdown at work? How suddenly facts, logic and reason turn irrelevant just because a decision maker loses their senses? Or more common, at a meeting, the moderator is holding forth on a monologue as opposed to engaging the other participants and discussing different viewpoints and ideas? Such behavior is the sign of deficiency of emotional intelligence and for leaders who lack it, the consequences for their teams can be truly harmful.

Need of Self-awareness

Emotional intelligence is crucial in being able to control one’s behavior and it requires a high degree of self-awareness. When you are able to take a holistic view of your actions or words from an external perspective and see the impact on other people, you are that much more likely to exercise control over your conduct towards others and thus avoid any negative ramifications of your behavior. This is especially important when you feel under pressure or dealing with conflict situations.

The Key - Empathy

Empathy skills can be very integral for good leadership. If you are able to easily empathize with others, you’ll feel more connected with them. This in turn leads to a higher level of trust and engagement, leading to improved performance. Empathy can not just make you a better leader, but can also boost your own performance.

Gaining Emotional Intelligence

For people who feel they just don’t have adequate levels of emotional intelligence, there’s good news. You just need to adopt three steps to become more emotionally intelligent.

  • Pay attention to what people are saying - and what they are not. Try to recognize cues - verbal as well as nonverbal (e.g. facial expressions, tone, body language).

  • Unravel such cues, which involves understanding the meaning of the spoken and silent messages along-with making educated guesses about the underlying emotions and motivations.

  • Responding or reacting in an appropriate manner, that involves demonstrating to others that their message has been well received and encouraging them to be forthcoming.

Good leadership is all about connecting with your associates and supporting their individual professional development that will lead to more engagement and higher productivity.

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What to Know When Seeking Nonprofit Funding

The governing body of a nonprofit organization has a range of different funding options to consider. The most popular sources of income are are grants and donations. However each income stream comes with its unique processes.

Below is a holistic view of what’s involved.

Grant Funding

Grants are typically doled out by the public sector or charitable foundations or trusts. The grant need not be repaid and is normally tax-exempt. However, most grant providers only fund organizations of charitable nature. Several grant makers also do not fund organizations that have significant resources or cash in hand. This can be disadvantageous for those organizations with a business-like functioning.

In addition, grants generally come with conditions, like:

  • Specific objectives or results

  • Particular milestones

  • Reporting on use of the money or the progress of the project.

  • Unutilized amount to be returned to the provider

Before opting for grant funding, nonprofits should consider the following:-

Does the funding aid the present aims and strategy – or divert from the mission?

Is it feasible to adhere to the grant conditions?

Will the cost of obtaining the grant outweigh the benefits?

Can the activity be sustained in the absence of grant funding?

Gifts and Donations

Gifts and donations are a very important source of income for charities and can also benefit from tax relief. Donations are generally received from individuals, companies, or other charitable trusts and foundations. You generally have considerable freedom in choosing how to apply them unless the donations have been made in response to a particular appeal.

Fundraising however can be a costly and time-consuming process – with even the risk of losing money. With this in mind, these are a few key aspects to be aware of:-

  • You will need to comply with data protection, accounting rules and legal requirements with regard to professional fundraisers, for house-to-house collections and lotteries. The rules regarding fundraising can be complex and it’s best for you to seek professional advice.

  • Is your fundraising economic and effective? Do you have a ROI model for your fundraising activity and are you adhering to it?

  • More importantly you should have a concrete plan in place to ensure that the funds are spent effectively for the purpose it has been raised for.

  • You have to ensure clarity and transparency in the specific objective(s) of the fund raiser, and also have plans to deal with any surplus or shortfall of your target.

  • Ensure that your fundraising activities are above the board and unlikely to tarnish your reputation in any manner. For example, you should have solid policies on corporate donations.

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OUR TIME IN KENYA...PART 2 BEAUTIFUL HEARTS, BEAUTIFUL SOULS, SPIRITS OF LOVE

As I begin sharing with you the next part of our trip, I immediately think about my team.  By the time we reached the Olmalaika Home, we were eager to see the 37 beautiful girls who live there.  It was actually the first stop since we had landed in Kenya two days earlier.  We'd acclimated to our surroundings, went on our first safari to see the unbelievable wildlife at the Masai Mara, rested a little and now were eager to bea part of the Olmalaika initiative who protects, educates and sustains girls who have been victims of FGM and or childhood marriage.

Women Like Us supports the work of Kim DeWitt at the Olmalaika Home in Kenya. The purpose of the home is to house, educate and protect girls who are victims of FGB and/or childhood marriage.
The children were intrigued with our phones.  What a delight to see their picture and touch the phone.

The children were intrigued with our phones.  What a delight to see their picture and touch the phone.

As we arrived, I watched the volunteers, my fellow like-minded travelers, step out of the jeep and meet the girls.  It was no different than meeting children at a school in the United States, except these girls had much more to battle, and yes, much more to be thankful for.  My team right away began friendships, especially Devan, our 17 year old who had come with her mother.  The connections were instantaneous.

I am so proud to know Kim DeWitt and now Kumunge, her partner in Global Village Ministries who have managed the home, grown the awareness and saved the lives of these young women.

We were given a tour, what a difference from the last time I was here.  They have planted a garden, built a guest house for people who come to volunteer and taken in almost 10 more girls.  The girls showed us how they do bead work, they sang for us, and they told us they are happy and blessed to be at the home.  The thing that is needed most, as is always the case with charities, is dollars to sponsor the girls.  It takes $1000 per year for each girl to get educated, have medical services, food clothing and housing.  LEARN MORE

Thank you Olmalaika Home for all you do.  We are glad to be able to support you through telling your story, reaching funders, and traveling to you so Women Like Us can learn first hand, on the ground, of your work.

The beautiful girls of Olmalaika Home.

The beautiful girls of Olmalaika Home.

 

 

 

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When Celebrities Take on Sex Trafficking

A high profile celebrity possesses considerable advantage in our connected society today. Their vast following on social media along with a proven ability to garner attention ensures wide coverage from mainstream media and has immense potential to be used for good or bad. Several celebrities make full use of this advantage to become vocal on issues they are passionate about.

Hollywood heartthrob Ashton Kutcher is one such celebrity who has leveraged his popularity and status as an actor and entrepreneur to advocate for vulnerable children caught in the sex trafficking trade. Sex trafficking is a rampant problem across America, one which law enforcement struggles to cope with. Co-founder of a tech company called Thorn, he has been using his familiar face and name for the good of a vulnerable and neglected part of our society, namely children.

Through the use of the software tool “Spotlight,” over 6,000 trafficking victims were identified, of which one-third were minors. This was accomplished in just six months, with the involvement of just a quarter of their user base. The successful tool is now being used by around 4,000 law enforcement officials in 900 agencies.

Kutcher has utilized his celebrity status to open doors of opportunity that many ordinary folk do not enjoy, even testifying about human trafficking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"I've met victims in Russia, I've met victims in India, I've met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country,” he said. "I've been on FBI raids where I've seen things that no person should ever see."

Since then, other celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Kristen Bell too have joined forces and lent their voices in the fight against modern day slavery. Social media plays a big part in their efforts. Movements like the "Shine a Light on Slavery Day" engaged hundreds of thousands of people to draw a red "X" on their hand and posting images on social media. Maybe symbolic, but a powerful statement.

However there is a disturbing tendency to demonize celebrities when they make use of their high profile platforms to voice their concerns. This is what led to a backlash against Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes or Beyonce’s electrifying performance at last year’s super bowl. These are just two examples of smart, successful and passionate individuals being heckled to stop talking about important subjects they are concerned about. The treatment meted out to them was as if they weren’t humans with rights and their valid opinions didn’t reserve an airing.

By lending our support in such instances can only help in the fight against the scourge of child trafficking.

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3 Ways U.S Citizens are fighting Sex Traffickers

No longer can we ignore the presence of human trafficking in the US. Be it facebook warnings from concerned mothers in Milwaukee, legal tussles with prominent online portals or concerned citizens banding together, awareness and activism is definitely on the rise.

On Social Media

More and more reports are coming in from Kenosha of young women in some scary situations. According to the authorities, the I-94 corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago is becoming a hot spot for human trafficking, because it leads to a lot of destinations.

Recently a young woman detailed a threatening encounter with a stranger while on a beach. Her facebook post went on to become viral and elicited a lot of responses detailing similar incidents.

One harrowing instance was a mother’s detailing of her teenage daughters who encountered a couple of shady individuals before managing to escape. Such messages have contributed a lot to raising awareness than even reports in mainstream media.

Victims Vs Tech Giants

Even more harrowing is the tale of Kubiiki Pride who had to go online on a classified ads portal Backpage in order to get her 13 year old daughter back. She would eventually go on to lead a 7 year legal tussle that eventually shut down the portal’s adult services listings.

A feisty start-up, Backpage was launched In 2004 by the iconic libertarian publishing house New Times Media. The house launched Backpage as an online advertising business that soon morphed into one of the world’s largest prostitution hubs with more than 90% of its weekly revenues from trafficking and escort related ads.

Kubiiki and her daughter are not alone in the fight that’s going on even now. Many other victims of trafficking and their families are embroiled in multiple legal suits with the tech giant. To compound their woes, several not-for-profit special interest groups funded by companies including Google are supporting Backpage in their legal battles.

On the Road

Truckers in the US are increasingly operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking. Truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that trafficking victims also pass through due to the transient nature of their job.

Traffickers are constantly moving the victims around, shifting them to newer locations according to demand. Pimps also often look to sell their victims in places like truck stops en-route-- hence the importance of trucker diligence.

Organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) seek to educate truckers on what to look out for, how to report suspect incidences and the importance of doing so.

It’s encouraging that these acts of resistance are gaining ground in our country, yet alarming that such acts are even required at all. Anyhow, these efforts are not adequate by themselves and we as a society can contribute more to the fight against trafficking. Be it raising awareness about this modern day slavery, urging authorities to take steps to curb this crime or providing support and rehabilitation for rescued victims, we all can do more.

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Our time in Kenya...beautiful hearts, beautiful souls...spirits of love.

Our trip to Kenya revealed so many things to us.  The women's initiatives we support were as eager to see us as we were to see them.   The hugs of reunion and the renewal of friendships across so many many miles proved that we not only had not forgotten one another, but that our emails, social posts and support was making a difference and building even closer bonds.

And what a team we had!  Speaking of bonds...there is nothing like dedicated women for the greater good coming together to make a difference in the world.  Our group worked tirelessly, laughed loudly and celebrated joyfully with the new friends and relationships that were made over the two weeks we were there.

THANK YOU TO OUR KENYA, 2017 TEAM. TERRY, DEVAN, TERESA, FRANCI, LINDA, ANGELA, DANISHA

THANK YOU TO OUR KENYA, 2017 TEAM. TERRY, DEVAN, TERESA, FRANCI, LINDA, ANGELA, DANISHA

"I didn't know it would be like this," said Danisha.  "This is so much more than I expected,", said 17 year old Devan as she played with the children and made friends with the teen girls. "I want to bring my teen friends back here again.  We can do so much more when we come again."

We brought water filters and watched children drink the pure clean water and instructed the teachers how to correctly use and clean the filters at the Noel School.  Over the past 3 years, at the Noel school, we've begun self-sustainable projects that focus on hygiene, nutrition and education.  We've built a latrine, provided funds for dried beans, millet and other resources for lunches and assisted with medical and classrooms.  Most recently, a donor provided two 10,000 gallon tubs to catch rainwater.  NOW, that rainwater can be filtered to remove 99% of the germs and microbes the children have been drinking. And we worked with the children, teachers and families in the newly plowed land for a future garden.  Spinach and kale are the first two vegetables to give the children a healthier start to their lives.

 

NEXT PROJECTS:  A permanent source of sanitary water, completing the garden, increasing the teacher's salaries from $50 a month to the standard $150 a month; providing medical supplies and textbooks!

 

NEXT PART OF OUR TRIP:  OLMALAIKA HOME AND VICTORIOUS TEENS

JOIN US IN CHANGING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN IN KENYA???

WOMEN LIKE US FOUNDATION

 

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Why Child Sex Trafficking Can No Longer Be Ignored

Even though child sex trafficking is an alarmingly widespread issue in our society, it is often swept under the rug because it’s so uncomfortable to talk about.

The problem is that so few of us are willing to admit to its existence to ourselves as well as to others. We simply ignore this as something that couldn’t happen in our ‘safe’ neighborhoods, to us or someone we know, and often assume it’s something that only happens in foreign countries.

The thing is, child sex trafficking is way more common than a lot of people realize and it is happening in Canada, in the United States, and it’s happening right under our noses. It is something that all of us should be concerned about.

Human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of arms, and is set to surpass the illegal sale of drugs within the next few years. An estimated $32 billion a year industry, human trafficking is on the rise and is prevalent in all 50 states.

Children who run away from problems at home are often easy targets and are easily exploited due to their homelessness, emotional vulnerability, and desperation for money. This commercial sexual exploitation is not limited to any particular ethnic, racial or socioeconomic groups even though children from lower income families seem to be at a higher risk.

People can be lured, bought and sold into the sex trafficking industry in several different ways — through newspaper ads, fake employment agencies, word of mouth, or outright abduction. The traffickers can be friends, neighbors, family members etc. However, in recent times traffickers are increasingly part of organized crime syndicates who are often in cahoots with corrupt government officials, law enforcement agents, and employers.

Victims are generally isolated under lock, unable to get in touch with their families; they are repeatedly exploited, abused, and raped. They are subjected to severe psychological trauma designed to compel them into thinking that what is happening to them is their own fault. They soon reach the point where they feel they are solely deserving of the treatment that they are receiving. Traffickers will also threaten the victims’ families, and use fear, shame to control and keep them imprisoned.

In the future, maybe we can live in a world where sex trafficking has ceased to exist and all this is just a dim memory of our past, but till then, we should all make an effort to help in any way we can. To know about ways you can participate in, contribute or donate to the fight against trafficking and raising awareness, click here.

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How Women Can Protect Their Rights at Work

In the 21st century, women have come a long way. We have evolved from damsels in distress into confident, driven, and goal-oriented individuals over the years. We have succeeded in balancing work and personal lives, with a number of women moving their way up the business world and even the once male stronghold of politics.

But despite all these changes for the better, women are still having to deal with issues of basic rights in the workplace. There are still a lot of ordinary women who feel discriminated against in their jobs. The most evident aspect of this is the wage gap.

While statistically, 62% of the wage gap can be attributed to occupational and sectoral differences; unequal experience and education; along-with factors such as region, race and unionization, a whopping 38% is still left to be accounted for. It’s obvious that this stems from discrimination and (knowing or unknowing) bias towards sex.

Another equally vital issue is that women face is sexual harassment in the workplace. This is so alarmingly rampant that at least one in three women in US workplaces have experienced it. Harassment has grown beyond unwanted and aggressive physical contact to include sexual/sexist remarks, lewd texts, e-mails etc. What’s even more alarming is that most of these incidents are unreported.

No woman is ever safe from these violations of their basic rights. Every woman should know how to protect themselves and fight for their rights. Here are 3 ways you can take up the good fight:

1. Know your rights.

The primary step to protecting yourself from discrimination and harassment is by being aware of your rights. Learn about your rights and the laws that can protect you. Importantly, you should go beyond those policies that are commonly practiced and seek out the laws there for your protection.

2.Spread the knowledge

One can make a huge difference by sharing with others what you know. When you witness acts of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, don’t hesitate to call them out. Be bold and talk to your supervisor or employer about the incident. Let them know that you see it as a problem.

Authorities encourage victims of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination to report such issues and take actions against it.

3. Provide support.

If someone you know has been sexually harassed or discriminated because of her gender, give them your support, and encourage them to take action. One can also join support groups in your community to let others know that they have your support.

Remember, there is strength in numbers. There’s no one better to protect womanhood than women themselves. Above all,we must gather together in sisterhood to assert our rights and to be respected and protected. Be aware, spread the wisdom and never stop striving for change.

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