Women in Africa spend 40 billion hours a year walking to get water, according to the United Nations.
The practice dates back generations, can be extremely dangerous and prevents communities from reaching any sort of gender parity.
A world away, on her farm in Iowa, singer/songwriter Lissie is trying to do something about it.
“I grew up in America. My life’s been way different,” Lissie told correspondents.
“I’m no expert on politics. It’s just a gut instinct. It’s my humanity, and I really care a lot about what’s happening to people. … I feel that we have to talk about it, and we have to stop it. I think women, when we’re equal, whether it’s our pay or being able to control our own bodies or little girls not being sold into marriages, then we’re going to bring peace to this world, because we’re going to stick up for ourselves.”
The latest single off Lissie’s new album, “My Wild West,” is called “Daughters” — an anthem for female empowerment.
The track was inspired by the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which chronicles the peaceful, women-led movement that resulted in the end of Liberia’s civil war in 2003 and the election of the country’s first female president.
In that spirit of positive change, Lissie has partnered with a nonprofit called Charity: Water. The group says it has helped 5.6 million people around the world by providing clean, convenient and sustainable access to water. Through March 15, 100% of the proceeds from “Daughters” will go to charity: water and directly to people in need.
“By bringing in wells and monitoring them, it empowers women,” Lissie says. “It gives them a position of leadership. It gives them time to get educated. There’s a lot of statistics that show that if women are brought into the economy, we’d be able to end poverty in Third World countries much sooner.”
Indeed, a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study found that an increase in female labor force participation — or a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labor force participation — results in faster economic growth.