Each year on Women’s Day, we strive to bring women together, amplify our efforts to provide healing, and help women find their inner strength to use for their recovery.
Women represent roughly 25% of the individuals we serve. While this is a smaller population, the needs of women who are experiencing homelessness are unique and can be even more challenging in some ways. They face all of the same issues as men but there are additional hardships that women often experience to a greater degree such as sexual exploitation and violence (both physical and emotional). These abuses are often the very things that lead them to become homeless in the first place. Profound loss is another commonly shared experience that leaves women feeling so emotionally and physically depleted that it is amazing to watch how they can rally to move beyond homelessness despite all their losses.
Throughout the year, we recognize these issues and dedicate programs and services to supporting our female guests. We have a Women’s Center dedicated to caring for women through special and targeted programming such as art therapy, meditation, health, and wellness. In addition to our consistent attention to this population, once every year we set aside a special day where we can create very deliberate and intentional messaging about their value and worth.
Reflecting on the planning of the event, Guest Services Manager Fabiana Videla states, “I wanted Women’s Day to be a celebration of womanhood, a celebration of the here, and the now. Just for fun, no further purposes or goals to achieve.” On this day, we bring women together for the special experience of understanding themselves and changing the internalized messaging from saying ‘you’re not worthy,’ to one where we are celebrating their resilience and strengths. So many of our guests who identify as women have been dismissed throughout their lives and there is a sense of irrelevance, but we hope to counter this by creating a special day and letting them know they matter and that they are not alone.
Massachusetts City Councilor Erin Murphy attended this year’s event as a special guest to address our attendees stating, “One thing I was always brought up to understand is that we are no better than anybody else. At any moment, we could be in someone else’s situation.” She went on to demonstrate her commitment to securing basic resources for every Boston resident.
We are so grateful for all our special guests, staff, and volunteers who made this event possible and are thrilled to continue to recognize, support, and uplift the women of St. Francis House on Women’s Day and throughout the year.