Ankle boots may make a larger comeback than expected this fall—or at the very least, a more meaningful one.
Hundreds of walkers, including men, will soon sport women’s footwear at the YWCA’s annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event on Thursday, Oct. 20, in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence against women.
“This event shows what it means to be a woman,” said Heather Finlay, CEO of the San Diego County YWCA. “We are not going to put a stop to domestic violence with just women; we need help from men, society and the community. Everybody needs to take a lead role in ending violence against women, and this is something that actually works.”
The annual event—a fundraiser for the YWCA of San Diego County—asks participants to wear women’s shoes while walking one mile in downtown San Diego to raise awareness about the issue while fundraising for the nonprofit’s programs.
“It’s really a community event,” said YWCA’s Development Manager Carol Ann Chambers, who has worked with the nonprofit for five years. “It’s a nice way for us to engage our men because it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a community issue.”
Chambers said the event drew about 300 walkers, 100 volunteers and raised $20,000 in 2010, and the organization hopes to top the figures this year.
“We keep trying to up the ante,” said Chambers, who is optimistic that at least 500 participants will sign up. “The whole point is to draw attention in a light-hearted way to a very serious issue. It will take a community to solve it so the more people we have, the better.”
Anton Monk, a Carlsbad resident, is participating for the second time this year. Monk said he feels connected to the cause as a father of three girls.
“With three teenage daughters, I have a very personal connection with women’s rights issues,” he said. “It’s not often that one finds such a fun event that brings awareness to something as negative as domestic violence.”
Finlay said most people aren’t aware of the roots of a violent relationship.
“This isn’t a choice made by women. There are a lot of factors that go into these relationships,” Finlay said. “Someone doesn’t start in a relationship, get punched in the face and stay in the relationship. That’s not how it works.”
Finlay said statistics show one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Other statistics are just as staggering.
According to the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, over 5,600 calls to its hotline are made annually. Moreover, 531 women and children are in need of shelter in the region on any given day. Other statistics show that every 20.9 seconds a woman is battered and every 37.8 seconds a man is battered in the U.S.
Finlay, who became the CEO after serving as a board director of the 100-year-old organization for four years, said the San Diego YWCA houses approximately 225 people every day.
“It’s the basis for giving people the opportunity to get out of a very problematic situation and understand just how capable and strong they are,” she said. “They really thrive when they understand people care.”
To participate in the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” visit ywcasandiego.org
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