07/21/2014 06:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why You Need a Place of Your Own, Right Now


As women and girls, we need our own space. These spaces can be public or private, but they need to be female-centered and female-directed, specifically designed for female use. I urge you to identify your space and do it now!

Your space can be your bedroom, an outdoor meditation area, a friend's house, or a local center for women. Sure, men need their spaces, too. However, their look, form, and function are different. For women, it is our sisterhood that helps us overcome obstacles that affect us, sometimes daily.

At the heart of this space and why we need it -- our health. The reason we need a space is the same reason why the federal Office on Women's Health exists: there are issues that are particular to us.

Women's health issues include reproductive health, eating disorders, domestic violence/abuse, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and weight control, just to name a few. And we know that health is holistic. Therefore, our health also includes other traumas and concerns that disproportionately affect women and girls like sexual abuse, unequal work compensation, gender discrimination, biased media representation, and human trafficking.

In St. John, we are building the Sisterhood Empowerment Academy (SEA) as headquarters for Sisterhood Agenda. But it is more than that. The building is special, not just because it is eco-friendly, but because of what it symbolically represents: there are no women centers, YWCA's, or Girls Scouts in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands -- can you believe it? So, the SEA will be a first; see our campaign here. In this space, we are free to be ourselves.

Privacy is key to having a healthy space. The girls that we work with tell us that they need something that belongs to them where they could do what they want and need to do to better themselves. Women tell us that they are uplifted by other positive women and comforted in times of need.

The SEA is an example of what a sustainable, female-centered, nature-inspired empowerment space could look like. It is the kind of space that women and girls wouldn't realize they need until it's there; then, we will wonder how we existed without it. Your space is a refuge, a place of knowledge, support, and self-determination. It is a healing space and an example of what could be for all of us.