One question I get all the time is: “Why is Her Haven HER Haven? Why women, and not men?”
The first part of this answer is that, back in 2008 when I was first considering doing a volunteer design project, it was an organization I already belonged to that welcomed my idea, encouraged me to move forward with it, and offered to support me in any way possible. This organization is called Soroptimist, a coined Latin term meaning “best for women”, and their mission is to help women and girls locally and throughout the world. There was no question which gender my client would be.
After deciding to establish Her Haven as a nonprofit, I reconsidered whether or not to limit our efforts to just women and organizations that serve women. Certainly there are amazing men in the world who serve and inspire every day — why celebrate just the unsung female heroes among us?
I thought about this for a long time while developing my business plan, and even considered changing the name and focus of our work to honor returning veterans -male and female – and naming it Havens for Heroes. If there is any group of people deserving of our gratitude and respect, it is certainly those who have made such incredible sacrifices, and who fight for the freedoms we enjoy every day.
However, I kept coming back to all the important women in my life, to all I have known and who came before me who have worked so hard for gender equality, to all my female friends and mentors who inspire me every day, and to all those unknown women among us who work in countless ways to make the world a better place. I also kept coming back to the fact that, despite making tremendous strides, women still do not enjoy equal economic or social status with their male counterparts, that women are usually wearing a million different hats, trying to be all things to so many people, and often put their own needs behind those whom they love. The question, then, was “Why NOT women?” I decided to keep the HER in Her Haven, and in 2012, our work began.
I sit here now on another snowy day this International Women’s Day (there is definitely something about the snow that seems to inspire me to write!), and I think of all the women in my life, the special bonds I have with my friends, the support and encouragement I receive from female mentors, and the inspiration I draw from so many women and girls all over the world. I think of my mother, who just celebrated her 70th birthday, and how lucky I am to still have her in my life. I think of my own two daughters and my hopes and dreams for them, and of all the anonymous women we hope to shine a light on and celebrate through Her Haven.
Again, I come back to the real question: Why NOT women?