World Mental Health Day Calls Attention to the Needs of Sexual Assault Survivors

World Mental Health Day and International Day of the Girl Child 

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is Mental Health of Young People in a Changing World. October 11 is also the International Day of the Girl Child. “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force.” http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child. All girls deserve to grow up with an education, skills and health care to prepare them for a full and productive life. Yet, in many countries and especially during war and conflict, women and girls face significant challenges due to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault that affects their health, mental health and limit opportunities for their future. 

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Krishanti Dharmaraj

Krishanti Dharmaraj’s passion for human rights and social justice began with her experience growing up in Sri Lanka, country with civil unrest that later transformed into a civil war. She asserts that this experience with violence and conflict, including the looting and bombing of her own home, changed her life for the better. It showed her that advocating with and for those who face injustice is her only choice. Her purpose in life is to “advocate for human rights of women so that they may lead and govern to build a just and peaceful world”.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Leila Darabi

Leila Darabi is a storyteller. “I have always been a communications person,” she says. “My work has focused on translating scientific evidence into plain, simple language that policy makers and the media can understand. She began her career at the Guttmacher Institute. It’s an approach that she took to Planned Parenthood, where she led global communications, and continues to put into action as her role of Senior Vice President and Head of Engagement at the communications firm Corkery Group Unlimited.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Dorchen Leidholdt

Dorchen Leidholdt—whose dedicated work includes serving as the director of Sanctuary for Families Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services and founding and serving as a board member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, as well as co-chairing the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition—has been fighting violence against women since the 1970s.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Erin Vilardi

Erin Vilardi is the Founder and CEO of VoteRunLead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for political office and win. She believes the world would be a better place if it was run by women, and that women already possess all necessary skills and competencies to run a successful political campaign. Inspired by her older sister’s passionate feminism, Erin studied Politics, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at New York University. Her senior year, she completed an internship with women’s leadership nonprofit The White House Project, where Erin later began the VoteRunLead program. 

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Allison Pytlak

Allison Pytlak completed her degree at the University of Toronto, after which she went on to volunteer and intern within the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in Geneva and Mines Action Canada. She was deeply moved by the plight of landmine survivors and eventually went on to also work in a global campaign to ban cluster munitions. She has been a strong advocate for arms control, advising on policy and advocacy with the Control Arms Coalition during the negotiations of the Arms Trade Treaty.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Ray Acheson

Ray is the Director of Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). As a young woman in Toronto, Canada, she was always interested in issues concerning peace and conflict. Even in high school, she was an advocate for social justice and wrote letters for Amnesty Int. She says it been a long struggle to increase the public’s awareness of the threat of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Jimmie Briggs

Award-winning journalist and activist Jimmie Briggs is a co-founder of the Man Up Campaign to engage youth in a global movement to end gender-based violence and advance gender equality. He began his career as a journalist and produced seminal reports on the lives of youth and children soldiers from war-torn countries. His exposure to rape as a weapon of war, trafficking of girls and other forms of gender-based violence motivated him to give up his career as a journalist and become an activist

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Sarah Akkari

For over eight years, Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d”Orient (USA), the company that her mother started has made a difference to improving the lives of poor women’s in Lebanon. Senteurs d’orient , a company based in Lebanon that makes hand made soaps and fragrances employs women workers at their factory in Beirut.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Beverly Cooper

Beverly Cooper Neufeld is an activist and businesswoman with a passion for empowering girls and women. After raising her family, she began to work for a congresswoman and soon became heavily involved in politics and advocacy for women’s rights. As executive director of the White House Project, she oversaw research on women’s leadership, and helped develop SheSource and VoteRunLead. Frustrated by the rate of progress, in 2004 she founded PowHer New York, a network of over 100 organizations working together to advance women’s equality.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Mickela Mallozzi

Mickela Mallozzi is an Emmy award–winning television host, dancer, and advocate for women’s rights. Her sense of adventure and desire to travel allowed her to use her background in dance =to connect and communicate with people from all over the world. She started a web series to document these interactions, and to inspire women to travel and have their own independent experiences.

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Azadeh Khalili

Azadeh Khalili is a mother, activist, human rights advocate, and leading figure in promoting progressive social change and feminism. Azadeh first became involved in human rights after moving from Iran to New York City as a student. 

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Mary Luke
Champion of Change: Thalia Mavros

Thalia Mavros is a highly influential media activist and women’s rights advocate who became a voice for women throughout the U.S. through her pioneering work as a filmmaker and developer of multidisciplinary media platforms and entertainment experiences. She established herself as a leader in the frontier of creative digital media—a typically male-dominated industry—becoming the Executive Creative Director of VICE.

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Mary Luke
Denim After Dark

In April – which was sexual assault awareness month – our Young Professionals committee hosted the Denim After Dark event to call attention to the issue of gender-based violence.

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Mikki Brammer
Beyond #MeToo

On March 22, we launched a new partnership with the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs with the panel discussion, Beyond #MeToo: A Dialogue on Sexual Harassment.

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Mikki Brammer