Commission On The Status Of Women

Shifting Narratives - the strength of women survivors

Honoring Women’s History Month
Shifting Narratives: The Strength of Women Survivors portrays the journey, strength and resilience of women surviving homelessness, domestic violence, and human trafficking. While the City of Los Angeles is working to end homelessness, more than 31,000 individuals still experience homelessness of which more than 9,000 are women.

Women have unique stories and different needs when it comes to homelessness. Many are survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. When these women try to escape their violent environment they often have nowhere else to turn and are forced to become homeless or remain with their abuser. Specifically, an estimated 9,920 women experiencing homelessness are also survivors of domestic violence. In Los Angeles County, 3,050 homeless women report a history of sex trafficking, compared to 1,666 men.

As the number of women impacted remains high, the City of Los Angeles is committed to elevating the voices of survivors and listening with open hearts and minds to end homelessness together.

When someone asks, “why didn’t she leave,” we will ask, “where would she go if she did” and “why is someone causing harm”?

When someone says “it isn’t happening here” we will reply “it is happening right here in our backyards.”

This art exhibit is presented to you by a cohort of government and community groups committed to achieving gender equality in the City of Los Angeles and beyond. Preventing more women from becoming homeless requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that addresses the long-term effects of institutionalized and structural gender and racial discrimination. Through policies, programs, and services, the City of Los Angeles is working tirelessly to address factors such as the wage gap, occupational gender segregation, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, City contracting opportunities, discrimination in housing and employment opportunities, the gender-investment gap, and any gender-blind services that obstruct women’s opportunities and power to shape their own lives.

The Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women in partnership with the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmembers Nury Martinez and Monica Rodriguez, and the Los Angeles Housing & Community Investment Department.

Community Partners
Mount Saint Mary’s University, Downtown Women’s Center, Rainbow Services, Los Angeles City Domestic Violence Alliance, Women’s Voices Now, A Window Between Worlds, United Way of Greater Los Angeles & The Everyone In Campaign. A special thank you to Jody Baral, Department Chair, Art & Graphic Design, Mount Saint Mary’s University for curating the art exhibits.

Venues for Display

Los Angeles City Hall Bridge Gallery
Opening Reception: March 8, 2019, International Women's Day, 9-11 AM
Exhibit Dates: March 4 - March 28, 2019
Exhibit Times: Mondays through Fridays, 9-5 PM
200 N. Spring Street 
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Jose' Drudis-Biada Art Gallery
Sister art exhibit in conjunction with the Senior Masters Exhibit 
Opening Reception: April 14, 2019, 1-3 PM
Exhibit Dates: April 15 - April 2019
Exhibit Times: Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays, 12-5 PM
Mount Saint Mary’s University
12001 Chalon Road
Los Angeles  90049

Coming soon: Information regarding artwork pick-up dates.


Background & Mission 

LACSW was established through an ordinance passed by Mayor Tom Bradley in 1975 with the mission to advance the general welfare of women and girls in the Los Angeles community and to ensure that all women have full and equal participation in City government. Its mission is to:

Inform and Advise the Mayor and City Council of the needs and challenges that Los Angeles women face, with special emphasis placed on women in City government.

Investigate problems and conditions adversely affecting women.

Recommend solutions to problems impacting women; identify programs that offer a greater opportunity and ability for Los Angeles Women to pursue life choices without discrimination.

Propose methods of alleviating gender-based inequities in pay and job opportunities.

Promote awareness of changing life patterns, opportunities and responsibilities of women.

Maintain relationships with citizen groups that are committed to identifying and removing obstacles to the development of a woman's full potential.


Meet our Commissioners and explore how they are working to advance the well-being of women and girls in the City of Los Angeles. 

Jackie Filla, President
Nancy Perlman, Vice President
Erma Bernard-Gibson, Delegate
Jessica Postigo, Member
Maryam Zar
, Member

Marla Messing, Member
Ana Teresa Dahan, Member

LACSW is staffed by the LA Housing + Community Investment Department. 

Focus Areas

LACSW actively supports the implementation of Executive Directive No. 11 on Gender Equity in City Operations. As part of this work, LACSW engages in several different issue areas.

Gender Equality & Workforce Development
Occupational sex segregation and wage discrimination continue to be a challenge for women in the workforce. Women are overrepresented in lower-paying jobs, while underrepresented in better paid occupations. In addition, women working full time and year around in California earn less than men in every racial and ethnic group. For each dollar earned by white men, Latinas earn 42 cents, African American women earn 59 cents, Asian American women earn 75 cents, and white women earn 78 cents. Over 7 in 10 single mothers in LA County struggle to meet basic needs. Sexual harassment and discrimination, unpaid caretaking labor, and motherhood penalties are other severe economic hardships that working women face. 

As part of LACSW's efforts to help implement Executive Directive No. 11, LACSW works with the Workforce Development Board (WBD) and the Economic & Workforce Development Department (EWDD) to ensure that the LA City Workforce Development System (WDS) addresses the needs of women and girls. As a result of our joint efforts, EWDD, in their most recent WorkSource System Request for Proposal, included a requirement to ensure that program design:

- prevents gender stereotyping and implicit gender bias 
- provides women and men with equal job training opportunities
- provides staff training that addressess harassment and discrimination

On June 7, 2018, WDB adopted LACSW’s recommendations on the WDS and incorporated them into the WDB’s Annual Plan for 2018/2019 under the Strategic Goal No. 5. LACSW will continue to support WDB and EWDD in the implementation of these recommendations and help build the WDS’s capacity to apply a gender lens to the design, implementation, and evaluation of its services.

Read the WBD and EWDD Annual Plan for 2018-2018/Strategic Goal No. 5 here.

Gender Equality & Transportation
Transportation plays a fundamental role for women and men, girls and boys, and gender non-conforming individuals’ access to education, employment, healthcare, childcare, and other key services. Affordable, safe, timely, and accessible transit services affect resident’s life prospects and quality of life. In addition, it boosts socio-economic growth and increases cross-cultural connectivity, as well as social cohesion.

Several studies show that women and men have different mobility patterns and mobility needs. On average, women use public transportation to a greater extent than men, taking multiple short trips at regular and irregular hours, often together with their children and/or elderly relatives or, while carrying bulky items for the household. Continue to read why transportation is a gender equality issue here

To ensure transportation services meet the needs of women and girls, LACSW participates in Metro’s NextGen Bus Study and collaborates with LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) as well as other relevant stakeholders. On September 21, 2018, LACSW hosted a panel discussion where Metro, LADOT, Los Angeles Police Department, LA County Women & Girls Initiative Investing in Place, and Central City Neighborhood Partners presented their efforts to address women's mobility needs. Download the Minutes here

Preventing Harassment & Discrimination in the Workplace 
LACSW is actively engaged in the City’s efforts to prevent and address harassment and discrimination. On November 27, 2017, LACSW participated in the City Council discussion on this issue and expressed support for a Motion introduced by Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Nury Martinez. Read LACSW's comments and statement. In addition, LACSW contributes to the work of the Risk Reduction Working Group which informed Executive Directive No. 23 on Harassment and Discrimination and the launch of the online reporting platform MyVoiceLA

Safe Cities L.A.
Every day, the City of Los Angeles works tirelessly to make sure that Angelenos feel safe in their communities. In 2014, under the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. joined the UN Women Safe Cities Initiative and recognized January 11 as "Safe Cities LA Day," to show its commitment to addressing the unique needs of women and girls. The Safe Cities Initiative encourages "innovative, locally owned and sustainable approaches to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women in public spaces." Together with UN agencies, national governments, women’s rights organizations, and other mayor's offices around the world, LA has taken several steps to honor this commitment. On January 18, 2019, Los Angeles City Council recognized "L.A. Safe Cities Day" through a presentation led by Councilwoman Nury Martinez. Read Commissioner Francesca Vega's remarks here. To raise awareness about the initiative and some of the City's efforts, Mayor Eric Garcetti shared an awareness-raising video

Keep reading about the Safe Cities LA initiative and ongoing work here.

Connecting Women in City Government
City Hall X (CHX) is a monthly speaker series, exclusively for women working in the Los Angeles City Government that was launched in January, 2015. Every month, CHX invites one of the stellar women working in the LA City Government to share her story. For those who attend, it is a transformative experience and a great way to connect with other women, especially those in leadership positions.

Cities Leading Women
In August 2018, LACSW brought the National Association of Commissions for Women Conference to LA for the first time and created a space for leaders from across the country to connect, learn from each other, and share ideas for how to advance women’s equality. The 48th Annual National Association of Commissions for Women Conference program included 25+ sessions  with over 60 speakers and a multidisciplinary audience from across the country. Watch Channel 35’s segment of the conference here.

LA Women Means Business
LACSW is part of the LA Capital Consortium, a group of organizations convened by Mayor Eric Garcetti to recommend policy measures toward alleviating the under-capitalization of diverse businesses including those owned by women and minorities. The Women's Entrepreneurship Committee of the Capital Consortium focuses specifically on improving access to capital for women entrepreneurs and serves as the planning committee for the annual LA Women's Entrepreneurship Day celebration. The LA Women Mean Business Initiative was launched on Women's Entrepreneurship Day, November 19, 2018. It is a campaign by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of Community Business to deliver coordinated services and resources toward addressing the unique needs and opportunities of women-owned businesses throughout the City. In this way, we can increase their capacity to access capital and grow exponentially. Access the LA City Women's Entrepreneurship Brochure & Resource Guide here

In the past decade, women and girls have become more present than ever on our streets. From 2009 to 2016, the number of unsheltered women grew by 70% in Los Angeles. Compared to men, these women share a different story and have different needs. Today, 57% of all unsheltered women report domestic violence as their immediate cause to homelessness. In Los Angeles, 28% of the female homeless population has a history of sex trafficking, compared to 6% of unsheltered men. As women and girls are disproportionately affected by domestic violence and human trafficking, it is imperative for cities to provide a comprehensive level of support, specifically access to supportive housing and financial resources.

LACSW supports the work of the LA City Domestic Violence Alliance and the LA Domestic Violence - Homelessness Coalition to raise awareness about this issue. In addition, LACSW has launhed the "Look Again" Campaign and made the issue a focus area for the 2017 Pioneer Women’s Awards and the 48th Annual National Association of Commissions for Women Conference

Pioneer Women's Awards 
Since 1989, LACSW has partnered with City Council and the Mayor of LA in honoring female leaders for their exemplary contribution to the City through the Pioneer Women’s Awards. Together, we have awarded more than 400 resilient women and brought awareness to their specific area of work while fostering closer relationships between the City and community leaders. In 2018, 17 women were recognized for their tireless efforts to support survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and homelessness. Read the 2018 presentation in City Council by LACSW Commissioner Jessica Postigo here

"Look Again" 

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century, second only to drugs. Los Angeles is one of the most active human trafficking hubs in the state and around the world. Some of the most recognizable trafficking corridors in Los Angeles include Western Avenue, Century Boulevard, Sepulveda Boulevard, and Figueroa Street. 

Look Again” is a media campaign produced by the LACSW, in partnership with the LAPD and creative professionals at the renowned advertising firm Chiat Day, with support from the Mayor’s Office and the LA City Council. The intention of the campaign is to capture Angelenos' attention and raise awareness of the realities surrounding human trafficking, in particular child sex trafficking. It is not happening "somewhere else" – it is right in our neighborhoods and the victims are just like girls we all know.

In 2018, "Look Again" was nominated to the ACT Responsible Awards offered each year at the Cannes Lions Festival. ACT Responsible is an international non-profit association with the mission to inspire, promote and federate the actors of the advertising communications industry around social responsibility and sustainable development and to share good practices. "Look Again" was featured at the ‘‘Great Ads For Good Causes” Exhibition.

Read LACSW’s Strategic Action Plan here.

A Sample of Past Projects

The Report on the Status of Women & Girls
In 2015, LACSW, in partnership with Mount Saint Mary's University and Mayor Eric Garcetti released The Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Los Angeles - the first-ever study focusing on the issues and trends affecting women and girls in the City of Los Angeles. The release was followed by a presentation in City Council, which provided specific data on Demographics, Leadership, Veterans, Education and Workforce Development, and Public Safety. 

Connecting Women & Girls to Crisis Counselors  
Crisis Text Line (CTL) is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis; users can text 741741 from anywhere within the U.S. to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor. In 2017, LACSW created a partnership between LA City and CTL with the mission of raising awareness among Angelenos about CTL’s free service. In addition, CTL assigned the keyword “LA” to the region, which enables CTL to collect data specific to LA. That data is passed along to the City, free of charge, and may be instrumental in informing policy strategy around health and wellness, public safety and more.


Careers in City Government  
Making LA Happen” is an inspiring and educational video series profiling the phenomenal women working in LA City government. The project was a collaboration between LACSW, LA’s Information Technology Agency, LA Cityview 35, and the Directors Guild of America. Several female directors from the DGA graciously donated their time to produce and direct four videos featuring:

- Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation
- Ana Guerrero, Mayor Garcetti's Chief of Staff
- Kristin Crowley, Los Angeles's first female Fire Marshall
- Deborah Flint, General Manager, Los Angeles Airports

Human Trafficking Prevention Training  
LACSW, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, has worked to increase the number of trainings on human trafficking. In these trainings, participants learnt:

- Warning signs of human trafficking
- The importance a survivor-centered approach that focuses on the physical and emotional well-being of survivors
- Ways to partner with public and private organizations to provide survivors a network of support

Connecting Women Business Owners to Resources  
At the “Connecting Women to Power” conference, hosted by Jerome Horton, member for the 4th District and former Chair of the California Board of Equalization, LACSW facilitated the distribution of business development resources to thousands of women attending. In partnership with the Economic and Workforce Development Department, LACSW ensured women learnt how to access resources on:

- Funding opportunities
- Business Development
- Marketing and public relations. 

March for Moms
On May 6, LACSW represented the City at the first ever March for Moms in Los Angeles and re-confirmed the City’s commitment to support mothers. March for Moms is multi-stakeholder coalition sharing like-minded urgency to improve the well-being of mothers in the U.S. Read LACSW’s remarks here.

Download a summary of the LACSW projects here


How to Get Involved 

LACSW meets every third Friday of the month from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, at City Hall, room 1060. Our meetings are open to the public and no prior registration is needed. For more information about our meetings and activities, please visit the calendar and our agendas. If you want to present your project before LACSW or partner with the Commission, please email LACSW Project Coordinator, Caroline Toren at

Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women
1200 W. 7th Street, 9th floor
Los Angeles, California 90017

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Meeting Agendas & Minutes

Agendas are posted 72h prior to Regular Commission meetings and 24h prior to Special Commission meetings. Minutes are posted a week after they have been adopted by LACSW.

Access meeting agendas 
Access meeting minutes 

LA Commission on the Status of Women