Announcements from the Women’s Programs Office

Read about recent progress on the issues of women with disabilities, sexual exploitation and domestic violence

White House highlights Dolores Cimini as a “Champion of Change” for her dedication to STEM for people with disabilities

Dr. Cimini is being honored as a Champion of Change for her work in enhancing access to the STEM disciplines by students with disabilities through her research, leadership, and mentoring efforts.

From left to right: Estela M. Rivero, Dolores Cimini, PhD, and Shari Miles-Cohen, PhDMaria Dolores Cimini, PhD, former member of the American Psychological Association Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology (CDIP), is the Assistant Director for Prevention and Program Evaluation at the University at Albany Counseling Center and has served as the Principal Investigator for over six million dollars in behavioral health projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Education during the past decade. As a scientist-practitioner, Cimini has been active in promoting access to STEM for students with disabilities, particularly young women with disabilities, through her work with the APA Women with Disabilities in STEM Education Project (WWDSE), for which she serves as co-chair, and her mentoring President Obama and Dr. Dolores Ciminiof students and early career scientists on a national scale. Through her own experience as a scientist with a disability, she is helping our nation identify and enhance facilitators and address barriers to STEM education and career success for people with disabilities.

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.


BAPPI appoints new member of the APA Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls

The WPO is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. AnnJanette (AJ) Alejano-Steele by the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) to fill the seat on the APA Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls vacated by Dr. Rita Chi-Ying Chung.  Alejano-Steele serves as the Research and Training Director of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT), a non-governmental organization that works to develop sustainable and comprehensive responses to human trafficking. LCHT is committed to combating human trafficking through community-based research; awareness and education; leadership development; and collaboration. Based in Denver, LCHT has focused exclusively on the issue of human trafficking since 2005.  Alejano-Steele has also been a professor in the departments of psychology and women’s studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver since 1996.  She earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Michigan State University and completed NIH-supported postdoctoral work in psychology and medicine from the University of California, San Francisco.  Her health psychology expertise has focused on local and global health access for vulnerable populations, and comprehensive services for victims of human trafficking.

She serves on the steering committee of the victim services-focused Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking, and also serves on a key investigative taskforce led by the State of Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. Her decades of academic experience supported her role as a law enforcement trainer for the Colorado Regional Community Policing Institute, supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice (US-DOJ). She also serves on a national working group focusing on trauma-informed care for the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US-HHS).

With Alejano-Steele’s various roles in the anti-trafficking movement and academe, she blended together academics with on-the-ground field experience to create a multidisciplinary undergraduate human trafficking course. Most importantly, she created and coordinated the Human Trafficking Academic Response Team, which consists of ten academic departments designed to provide wrap around academic services for survivors of human trafficking as a form of long-term survivorship.

Senate passes reauthorization of domestic violence legislation

With input and advocacy by the American Psychological Association, the United States Senate on April 26 passed S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011. This legislation included an extension and consolidation of key health programs. Integrate treatment and referral for domestic and sexual violence into family planning, adolescent health and home visitation programs. APA asked members of its Public Policy Advocacy Network to urge their Senators to support the bill’s final passage. Learn more about this bill on the Women's Programs Office government relations webpage.


Commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States, Institute of Medicine (IOM)

On February 29 - March 1, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a meeting of their Committee on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. The first day of this meeting was dedicated to a public workshop, featuring testimony from experts in the field of human trafficking, including service providers, academics, and legal practitioners. Testifying NGOs included Shared Hope International, the Polaris Project and Courtney’s House. Each of these organizations discussed their experiences working with trafficked populations, and the need for further research on, as well as funding for, the issue of human trafficking. Local and national law enforcement and judicial representatives touched on the necessity of shifting blame away from the trafficked, the challenges inherent in prosecuting traffickers, and the difficulty of changing the culture of organizations to make trafficking a more central focus. WPO was excited to be present at the event, and to learn from other organizations fighting human trafficking. More information about WPO’s trafficking task force can be found online.

2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

On May 10, the Development Center at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) launched the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). The launch was held at the Department of State and speakers included OECD representatives, as well as Heidi Crebo-Rediker, chief economist at the U.S. Department of State, Steve Radelet, Chief Economist at USAID, Asmar Khadar, Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, and Inderjeet Singh, Deputy Director-General at the Government of India’s Central Statistics Office. SIGI measures the discriminatory social institutions — such as social norms, practices, and formal and informal laws — that underlie international gender inequality, which research has shown hinders  development, growth and poverty-reduction. Key findings include:

  • The average prevalence of early marriage across countries has decreased to 17 percent in 2012 from 21 percent in 2009.

  • The number of countries with specific legislation to combat domestic violence has more than doubled from 21 in 2009 to 53 in 2012.

  • 23 out of the 35 countries where missing women was identified as a concern in 2009 have shown improvement in 2012.

  • 29 countries have quotas to promote women’s political participation at both national and sub-national levels.

  • 86 out of 121 countries scored in the 2012 SIGI have discriminatory inheritance laws or practices.

  • Women’s reproductive autonomy is restricted: on average, one in five women has an unmet need for family planning.

  • Despite the introduction of laws, attitudes that normalize violence against women persist. On average, for the countries scored in the SIGI , around one in two women believe domestic violence is justified in certain circumstances.

  • On average, women hold only 15 percent of land titles for countries where data is available.

More details are available on the Social Institutions & Gender Index website.

Improving preventive health care services for women with disabilities: a toolbox, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

On April 17, 2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), Division of Human Development and Disabilities, and the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) convened a work group meeting in Washington, D.C. entitled “Improving Preventive Health Care Services for Women with Disabilities: A Toolbox.”  CDC, NCBDDD, and AMCHP invited key stakeholders working to promote the health of women with disabilities to come together to build upon ongoing efforts within the U.S. to improve preventive health care services for women with disabilities by creating a toolbox for use by health services and health promotion program planners, providers and women with disabilities. Workshop speakers included Nancy Lee, MD, deputy assistant secretary for Health-Women’s Health, director of Office on Women’s Health, USDHHS; Michael Fraser, PhD, CEO, AMCHP; Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, MD, MSc, PhD, deputy director, Office on Disability, DHHS; and Coleen Boyle, PhD, MS Hyg, director, NCBDDD. In addition presentations by these and other speakers, participants also engaged in small group work to elicit feedback on the tools presented as well as priorities, gaps and suggestions for the toolbox. These tools included health statistics, preventive service guidelines, tools for removing architectural and transportation barriers and mapping accessible facilities in communities, educational materials for enabling women with disabilities and their providers, and models of best practices in cities and communities. More information about promoting health and wellness of women with disabilities can be found on the Inequity to Equity conference page.

The workshop outcomes are expected to be published some time later this year.

Title IX at 40

Dr. Susan Klein and Dr. Bunny Sandler. (Credit: Ms. Tanya Burrwell)June 23, 2012 will mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs. On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, the Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues (CWI) hosted a panel discussion, “Title IX at 40,” featuring Dr. Bernice (Bunny) Sandler, senior scholar at the Women’s Education Institute (WREI).  Sandler, affectionately dubbed the “Godmother of Title IX,” discussed the history of Title IX and the progress and developments that have come about over the last 40 years.  Sandler recalled a time when schools openly discriminated against women and girls by excluding their participation on sports teams, and the many instances in which those who were allowed to play were not provided with adequate medical treatment and/or uniforms and equipment, all of which were available to male players.  However, while there have been many accomplishments since its implementation in 1972, girls and women still continue to discrimination. Additional panelists included Susan Rees (Wider Opportunities for Women), Jeannie Eagan (National Women’s Law Center), and Linda Shevitz (MD State Title IX Coordinator), discussed other areas related to Title IX such as career and technical education, discrimination against specific subgroups (i.e., pregnant and parenting students, minority students), and the role of Title IX Coordinators.

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"No person in the United Stated shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance."