Health summit focuses on preventing violence against women

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 5:24 p.m. CDT; updated 9:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Members of nonprofit and health care organizations from across the state met Monday and Tuesday to share strategies, one community to another, to prevent violence against women.

James R. Kimmey, president and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health, which sponsored the 2008 event, said the annual summit coincided with the debut of the women’s health funding program established last year by the foundation’s board of directors. The program currently provides grants to existing organizations to expand services for women who have experienced violence, although grants may eventually be given for other women’s health issues.

Missouri Foundation for Health recently approved $2 million in grants for 15 programs around the state that deal with violence against women, said Bev Pfeifer-Harms, the group’s director of communications.

According to the foundation’s Web site, Missouri ranks among the top 10 states for the number of women killed by men, and half of the state’s counties don’t have any services or shelters for women who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse.

But the people who attended the conference are hoping to improve those statistics.

“(The summit) provides people in this field a chance to interact, form relationships and spark new ideas,” Kimmey said. “I think they take away a sense that they’re not the only one working on this issue in Missouri.”

Speakers encouraged collaboration and discussed topics such as bullying, teen dating, the needs of ethnic minority communities, faith-based prevention approaches, disabled women’s needs, policy change, social marketing campaigns and the use of technology in violence prevention.

Kimmey said he hopes conference attendees left with a sense of hope.

“Single organizations can work on these projects, but coalitions bring together more intellectual resources than a single organization,” Kimmey said. “Convening is an important part of the foundation’s work. We believe collaborating is an important part of solving these issues.”

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