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The Women's Center annual EmPower Luncheon honors the courageous voices of survivors, those who advocate for survivors, and those who speak out to affect change.

In 2023, the EmPower Luncheon will bring together more than 500 individuals, companies, community influencers, and business leaders from Southeastern Wisconsin.

All proceeds directly benefit survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, child abuse, and trafficking through life-saving and life-changing programs and services provided by The Women's Center.



  • Sponsorships start at just $500 and provide many opportunities to promote your business
  • Contact Hannah Harris at [email protected] or 262.542.3828 for questions or more information
  • CLICK HERE to view the list of sponsorship levels and benefits


  • Goes live on Wednesday, April 19th
  • Closes during the event on Wednesday, April 26th
  • Features dozen of fantastic items from local businesses and individuals 


We are pleased to welcome our 2023 keynote speakers Rachel Lovell, PhD and Sara McKinnon, who will speak on two of the most contentious issues within the sexual assault field today.

 Keynote Speakers

Did you know that in 2017, Wisconsin had over 6,000 untested rape kits? And it was only in May of 2022 that a state-wide tracking database went live for survivors to track the status of their kits. Dr. Lovell is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Director of the Criminology Research Center at Cleveland State University. She is a leading expert on the issue of untested rape kits and what the real-life consequences are for survivors and our communities when backlogs occur. 

When someone mentions human trafficking, do you immediately think of someone being snatched and bundled into a car trunk? Do you think of young foreign women? Would you be surprised to learn that most of your preconceptions around trafficking are wrong? Dr. McKinnon is an Associate Professor in Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has spent much of her career researching the language and rhetoric used around human trafficking and how it can be harmful to trafficking survivors, and prevent systemic change in order to protect victims going forward.

Their combined knowledge and expertise will give attendees a unique chance to learn and engage with two experts in the field of sexual assault and give an insight into some of the many struggles faced by survivors and how the work we do at The Women's Center intersects daily with the issues they will raise.


This year we are thrilled to welcome The Milwaukee Bucks and Kohler to unveil the special renovation project they generously funded at The Women's Center.


What is Denim Day?

Join us on April 26, 2023, when millions of people across the world will wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate themselves and others about all forms of sexual violence.

The Denim Day story begins in Italy in 1992, when an 18-year old girl was raped by the 45-year old driving instructor who was taking her to her very first driving lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, removed her jeans and forcefully raped her.

She reports the rape and the perpetrator is arrested and prosecuted. He is then convicted of rape and sentenced to jail. Years later, he appealed the conviction claiming that they had consensual sex. The Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction and the perpetrator was released. A statement from the Court argued that because the victim was wearing very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was not rape but consensual sex. This became known throughout Italy as the "jeans alibi."

Enraged by the verdict, the women in the Italian Parliament launched a protest wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court. This protest was picked up by international media which inspired the California Senate and Assembly to do the same on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento. Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, saw this in the media and thought everyone should be wearing jeans to protest all of the myths about why women and girls are raped. Denim Day in LA was born. The first Denim Day in LA event was held in April of 1999, and has continued annually since.

For more information on the global movement visit

Hosted By The Women's Center

The Women's Center (Waukesha)

Wisconsin Center

400 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI, USA

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