Advocates for Public Policy’s Efforts Rewarded: Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act Becomes State Law

Credit: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Instagram

Yesterday marked a significant advance for gender equality in New York State as Governor Cuomo signed the Eight Women’s Equality agenda bills, collectively known as the “Women’s Equality Act”. The package includes bills that will strengthen equal pay laws, outlaw discrimination against parents and pregnant women in the workplace and increase protection for victims of domestic violence.

Included in the eight bills Governor Cuomo signed yesterday was the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), which the NYJL’s Advocates for Public Policy (APP) committee has advocated for in several legislative sessions (2011-2015).  “This is a huge victory for APP and recognizes the importance of our work,” said Sara Kern, APP Co-Chair.

Why is Governor Cuomo’s signature on this bill such a big deal? TVPJA increases protection for trafficking victims, particularly for sexually exploited children, and toughens penalties against those who prey on them.

Snapshot of APP’s efforts to secure this victory:

  • October 2013: APP organized a VTL on human trafficking to introduce this issue to NYJL volunteers.
  • May 2014: APP and New York State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues (NYSPAC) traveled to Albany to meet with individual legislators to garner their support of TVPJA.
  • Letter-writing campaign: To increase their impact, APP collected signed letters from NYJL volunteers encouraging their elected officials to support TVPJA.
  • May 2014: APP delivered the letters in person at spring conference.
  • March 2015: APP organized a VTL highlighting the importance of protecting victims of human trafficking, which coincided with the NYS Assembly passed TVPJA.
  • Social Media: APP engaged in an ongoing social media campaign using the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition’s campaign slogan “People are Not for Sale,” to brand this as a human rights issue with the NYJL’s volunteers and network.
  • October 2015: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), along with 7 other bills in the Women’s Equality Act.

“It is so inspiring to see the fruits of our hard work,” said APP Co-Chair DeNora Getachew. “This creates momentum for the impact APP can have in shaping public policy at the state and local level to improve lives for the women, families, and children who the NYJL serves in the community every day.”

For more information about APP and its efforts, read the latest results from the APP Survey. As APP gears up for another active year of advocacy, the Committee will be researching and establishing new legislative priorities at the state and local level, including the Paid Family Leave Act.  If you are interested in getting involved in our efforts, please email us at

Strengthening the families of the greater New York area.

The New York Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

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