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LOHS student explores girls' barriers to education

Emma Rose Taylor gathers nonprofits experts to show challenges females face, including being targeted by sex traffickers

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego High School senior Emma Rose Taylor, 17, put on a forum to raise awareness about the barriers that exist to girls' and women's education.A dearth of educational opportunities for girls, both in developing countries and locally, inspired 17-year-old Emma Rose Taylor to put on a special event last week to raise awareness about the issue.

Slavery, language barriers and life as a refugee are among the many things that prevent girls from getting an education, although in some countries they’re simply not encouraged to attend school as much as boys are. To raise awareness the topic, Taylor, a Lake Oswego High School senior, contacted three nonprofit organizations — Adelante Mujeres, Catholic Charities and Youth Ending Slavery — and persuaded representatives to speak at her event.

“I came up with this idea because I thought it would be a great way to inform students and the public about a certain lack of educational opportunities around us, locally and globally,” Taylor says. “It’s also a great way to hear people’s stories.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Youth Ending Slavery board treasurer Natalie Bojarsky spoke at last weeks forum, advising attendees to be 'a conscious consumer' because 'lots of the products (people) buy are made through slave labor.'Held Jan. 13 in the choir room at LOHS, the event drew more than 50 people, mostly students. Youth Ending Slavery (YES), based at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, is a student-run organization with chapters throughout the state. YES kicked off the event by sharing disturbing information, such as that trafficking is so common that one-third of runaways are approached by a trafficker of some kind within 48 hours of leaving home. That’s one way homelessness and human trafficking are linked.

“Women are trafficked more,” says Natalie Bojarsky, the 2015-16 board treasurer for YES. Forty-nine percent of trafficking victims are women, 21 percent are girls, 18 percent are men and 12 percent are boys, according to a YES graphic distributed at the event.

Bojarsky says the problem is everywhere, including in Oregon. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 4,168 reports of human trafficking in 2015 and 40 cases were reported in Oregon, according to the NHTRC website.

Bojarsky advised attendees “to be a conscious consumer.”

“Lots of the products (people) buy are made through slave labor,” she explains.

Speaking next were three representatives from Catholic Charities, which has services that include helping refugees and other vulnerable immigrants obtain family visas, naturalization, asylum and more. A refugee from Egypt, whose mother was Iraqi, shared some of her experiences adjusting to the United States, where she struggled to learn in school because of colloquialisms and a lack of American history knowledge.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - More than 50 students gathered for a forum on girl's and women's education.

Adelante Mujeres, which roughly translates to “rise up women,” offers many services, including supporting Latinas who are struggling to learn English or working hard to hold onto and hone a second language that could be invaluable in the work force.

Sophomores Siri Breckenridge, MynaAnn Carlson and Harrison Newgard sat in the front row, all keeping a keen eye on the speakers.

Carlson says she didn’t know human trafficking was so prevalent and that there were refugees in need in Oregon.

“It was eye opening,” she says.

Newgard agrees.

“I just feel like it’s something that not a lot of people are educated about, that trafficking is prevalent in Oregon,” he says.

Breckenridge found it unsettling that traffickers reach out to so many runaways so soon after they’ve left home.

“I thought that was really interesting,” she says.

Taylor organized the event through her Political Action Seminar (PAS) class, an elective for juniors and seniors in social studies designed to help students develop citizenship skills by running a political program of their own creation. Andrew Duden has taught PAS since the 1998-99 school year, with a two-year hiatus when he taught in El Salvador. Duden says Taylor “did a great job” with her presentation, with so many students and great speakers.

“That’s why I love teaching this class,” Duden says. “When you give (students) the tools to put together things like this, it doesn’t take much direction” for them to succeed.

By Jillian Daley
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All of the speakers’ organizations are active on Facebook, or you can reach them online or via email:

  • Youth Ending Slavery: www.youthendingslavery.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Adelante Mujeres: www.adelantemujeres.org, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 503-992-0078

  • Catholic Charities: www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 503-231-4866