Tag Archives: women

Leslye Borden – Founder of Handmade Especially for You


Julian Omidi profiles the founder of Handmade Especially for You, Leslye Borden.

Sometimes, having someone make a kind and thoughtful gesture, even if it is small, can make all the difference in our feelings of self worth.  People who have suffered years of abuse might have been conditioned to believe that simple kindness is something they will never either experience or deserve, but one organization, Handmade Especially for You, seeks to give people without hope a ray of handmade sunshine.[1]

Leslye Borden’s organization Handmade Especially for You, gives battered and abused women heartfelt, hand-knitted comfort scarves, which might be one of the few pieces of clothing the women have managed to retain after fleeing their dangerous conditions.  These scarves are colorful, lovingly packaged and created by groups of volunteers from all over the world.  Ms. Borden works with legions of recruits from church groups, retirement communities and community centers in order to produce the brightly patterned, cheerful scarves.  Since the organization’s inception in 2008, more than 57,000 scarves have been knitted and distributed to women in abuse shelters all over the United States.

Ms. Borden’s organization was founded shortly after she sold her stock photo business in 2007.  An avid knitting enthusiast, she spent her days knitting gifts for her grandchildren.  Scarves, sweaters, slippers, mittens, hats; any item of clothing that could be fabricated with yarn and needles.  When the number of articles began to overwhelm her family, she began donating the items to local shelters, and actively seeking organizations that needed knitted clothing.  When she found a Chicago shelter looking for knitted scarves for the rape survivors it helped, the concept of Handmade Especially for You was born.

Many of the volunteers are abuse survivors themselves.  Domestic abuse survivors are underrepresented members of society; they have little political or economic clout, so they are woefully unserved.  Organizations such as Handmade Especially for You bring the problem of domestic violence to the fore by encouraging survivors, witnesses of domestic abuse and those who haven’t been personally affected to work together to give a neglected segment of society a gift and a helping hand.

Handmade Especially for You is currently seeking facilities to house the supplies and scarves, as well as serve as a workshop for volunteers.  Currently, Ms. Borden keeps the supplies and donations in her home, which, thanks to the generosity of benefactors and volunteers, is becoming overwhelmed.

There are several satellite workshops where people can gather to knit and inspect scarves in accordance with Handmade’s specifications.  However, for those whose schedules or obligations do not allow them to visit one of the organized workshops, Handmade has patterns and kits for people to use when working on their own.  The organization has been highlighted by Oprah.com, as being a worthy volunteer opportunity for people who want to serve a charity from home.

We at Civic Duty would like to applaud Ms. Borden and her organization, not only for the invaluable service they provide to a vulnerable segment of the population, but also for bringing the problem of domestic abuse to greater public consciousness.  Handmade Especially for You also gives survivors as well as people untouched by domestic violence the opportunity to gather together and learn about each other, which is essential if we are going to increase empathy and understanding of this tragic problem.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Lubinskey, Annie: Local ‘Hero’ Offers Comfort to Abused Women Palos Verdes Peninsula News 3/5/2014 http://www.pvnews.com/news/local-hero-offers-comfort-to-abused-women/article_c9640b6e-a492-11e3-a0f4-0019bb2963f4.html


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Filed under Charity, Civic Duty, Julian Omidi, non profit

The Issues Faced By Women in Poverty

In the wake of International Women’s Day, Julian Omidi looks at the issues faced by women in poverty around the world.

On International Women’s Day the following meme was circulated to highlight the inequality that women experience around the world:

Women's Inequality Meme

It was later shown that these statistics could not be fully substantiated by any sources, but it does raise the question of what women experience when it comes to poverty and inequality.

According to the Global Poverty Project statistics, despite the fact that women make up roughly 50% of the global population, women account for 70% of those living in poverty around the world. There are many different factors that lead to this inequality, so let’s take a look at some of these key issues.

  • Gender Wage Gap – According to a recent article in the Washington Post, a lifetime gender wage gap of $431,000 exists between men and women in the United States. While life choices such as leaving the workforce to have children or deciding to work in a lower-paying occupation contribute to women earning roughly$0.77 for every $1 a man makes, when these life choices are factored out women still earn $0.91 for every dollar a man makes, a gap that many researchers identify as discrimination. The gender wage gap is not just a problem in the United States; in both developed and developing nations there can be a significant wage gap between men and women. In developed nations such as South Korea and Japan men earn wages 30% higher than women. In Germany and Canada the percentage gap exceeds 20% as well. In countries in Africa the wage gap (as of 2007) varied from 61% in Morocco to 80% in Egypt.
  •  Stages of Life for Girls and Women in Poverty – The Global Poverty Info Bank provides a thorough look at the problems facing women in poverty from birth to adulthood, and it is highly suggested that to get a comprehensive picture of the inequalities that women face that you read it for yourself. Some of the important factors that are examined include the higher risk that baby girls born into poverty face of female infanticide, lack of proper feeding and nutrition in favor of a male child, and genital mutilation that can result in infection, pain, or even premature death. When women reach child-bearing age many die during childbirth due to undernourishment or associated disease; in fact, roughly 99% of the women who die during child birth annually live in developing nations, roughly a girl or woman every minute. 

The question now becomes “What Can Be Done?” Some of the best courses of action include:

  • Education – Making sure that young girls and women have access to education and are enrolled in primary school is crucial. Women that have at least basic literacy skills have a better chance to succeed in the work force and make higher earnings, have lowered maternal mortality rates, and are more likely to send their own children to school. 
  • Micro-Credit Provisions – As proven in Bangladesh, women that have access to small loans are able to make better financial decisions, have increased awareness regarding legal and political issues, and have more financial mobility.

Promoting female empowerment and equality will help in the global effort to eradicate poverty and provide a better future for the women of the world in the present and future.

By Julian Omidi


Women in Poverty



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