Awareness: “Concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.”
Awareness is a simple yet incredible concept, isn’t it? Something that never crossed our minds or never occurred to us becomes a thought process we experience often or something we begin to advocate for because of awareness.
When I think of awareness, the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements come to mind. Both movements have deeply impacted my life and changed my perspective in so many ways. Witnessing women come forward with such strength and vulnerability and telling the once deaf ears of others their stories has awakened people with a new sense of urgency surrounding sexual assault and sexual violence and its prevalence in society.
Awareness, despite its deep beauty, is often tricky, as well. It’s tricky because so many people are still left out of the conversation. In the context of #MeToo and #TimesUp, women in the developing world typically are not given voice or space to tell their stories of sexual assault and sexual violence. Yet, both harassment and assault are rampant in the developing world.
For example, in the South African region alone, for example, 80 percent of women have experienced some type of sexual violence, according to Actionaid.
According to a United Nations spokesperson, up to eight or nine out of ten women in Mexico (depending on the city) have experienced sexual assault. In Latin America in general, this topic is highly censored and normalized, which gives women little room to speak their truth in many developing countries there.
Interestingly, women trying to gain access to clean water is directly correlated to the amount of sexual violence that occurs in these regions. According to Amnesty International, the billions of hours women spend collecting water each year, they are typically walking on unsafe roads and are exposed and vulnerable, putting them at higher risk of sexual assault. In fact, UNICEF has described women in these cultures as “prisoners of the daylight” because they face the impossible choice of providing water for their families and exposing themselves to the dangers that face them when they do collect water.
May we give voice and let all women be a part of this liberating, vital discussion. May we always remember and try to understand that not every woman has the privilege that we do in the Western world to share our stories. Some women in the developing world are still forced into silence, some scared to come forward for fear of being rejected by their families, some are even scared for their lives. Do not let your voice go to waste. . .be their voice.
YOU can help decrease the likelihood of sexual violence through clean water. You can bridge the gap between unsafe water and all the harmful side effects because we cannot be silent any longer. They do not have a voice. . .but we do! We can speak out for them, you can make a difference through clean water! Would you consider donating today and helping protect women around the world from the harmful, unspeakable tragedy of sexual violence?