I do realize that January is almost over, so I’m a little late on the New Year’s Day greetings. The month has passed by in a blur of snow and ice and busyness, and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down any time soon.
The Commission had a productive 2016. We welcomed our new leadership team last January, and we spent the spring reorganizing and pointing ourselves in a new strategic direction. We will speak out on many topics as they come up, but our main focus is going to be on human trafficking issues, women’s health issues, and early literacy issues.
On the human trafficking front, we continued our partnership with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. Commissioner Julianna McConnell and I represent the GCW on the task force in different work groups, and we were both part of successful projects there. The GCW assisted Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols with three Unholy Tours, two in Atlanta and one in Savannah. These tours are educational opportunities for legislators and local leaders to see firsthand the neighborhoods that have the most human trafficking problems. As we do every year, we participated in the Anti-Sex Trafficking Lobby Day sponsored by Street Grace, Georgia Cares, and others.
The most exciting news on the human trafficking issue in 2016 was the passing of Amendment 2, the Safe Harbor Law in November by Georgia voters. The measure passed with an almost unheard of 83 percent of the votes. This is a huge victory for human trafficking survivors and will ensure that victims across the state will receive the restorative services that they need.
In Health news, we continued our focus on osteoporosis education and had the pleasure of working with the Department of Public Health at their annual Falls Prevention Day event. Commissioners Sharon Baker and Martha Long provided bone density screenings for event participants. We are also continuing to keep an eye on Georgia’s rural healthcare crisis.
We are excited to announce that in September, Commissioner Sharon Baker was awarded the Hologic Inspiration in Women’s Health Award for Education at the Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health Conference in New Orleans. Congratulations to Commissioner Baker! The award is well deserved.
As we turn the page to 2017, we have a new partnership and program to tell you about. We will be working with the Department of Public Health on their “Talk With Me Baby” program, an early literacy initiative that has seen success in WIC clinics across the state. The Colquitt County Family Connection Collaborative along with DPH launched the first “Talk With Me Baby” community-wide program. We will be assisting DPH in their efforts to expand their program beyond community WIC clinics to all caregivers for infants and young children. Commissioner Susan Whiddon will lead this project on our end.
We have some events coming up that you will want to know about. February 28, 2017 will be the next Anti-Sex Trafficking Day at the Capitol. You will want to join us for that. Registration is free, but there is a small fee if you want to stay for lunch. You’ll need to sign up for that ahead of time. March 8, 2017 we will celebrate International Women’s Day, as we do every year. Plans are still in the works, so check back with our events page for more information.
All of the commissioners at the Georgia Commission on Women wish you and your families a happy and healthy 2017.
Karla Jacobs is the chair of the Georgia Commission on Women and a member of the CJCC Human Trafficking Task Force. She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.