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When I was in elementary school a guest speaker spoke of the devastating famine that affected Ethiopia from 1983-1985. It was the first famine to strike the country in a century, and it claimed one million lives. She displayed distressing photographs of Ethiopian children with spindly limbs, large heads, and bloated bellies. I was disturbed by the images, and I couldn’t believe there were children halfway around world with lives so different than my own. I’d previously never given much thought to the world beyond my own backyard.

It was a defining moment that enlightened me to the struggles many people endure on our planet.

A visit to Nicaragua rekindled those emotions when I watched women collect water from a nearby river. Collectively, women and girls spend 200 million hours a day fetching water, or 22,800 years. It would be as if a woman in the stone age started with an empty bucket and did not arrive home with water until 2016. Water is a basic human right, and women and girls should not be squandering their precious time collecting it. Women need their time to do other things, and girls should be carrying school books instead of jerrycans.