Catapulting Gender Equality with Clean Water

I loved my daughter, Ava, long before I met her. I remember so vividly waiting outside the doctor's office for the elevator, right after the ultrasound had confirmed what I'd suspected from the beginning: a girl. My heart literally ached with joy, and with gratitude, for the lifetime of mother-daughter experiences that lay ahead of us.

Whether we give birth in Kansas City or Addis Abba, this joy, gratitude and hope for a happy life for our daughters is the same.

I'm lucky to work at an organization that helps give mothers and daughters a better chance at a healthy, happy life together. As senior development manager at Water.org, I help raise awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis and the challenges and dangers that a lack of water creates for women and girls.

Today, one in eight people don't have access to clean water. More than twice as many don't have the dignity of a toilet. While everyone is affected, women and girls bear the overwhelming majority of the burden. They are responsible for locating and collecting water, caring for the sick (water-related disease is a primary cause of illness), maintaining a clean home, and bringing up healthy children. As a result, they are the ones pulled out of school, rendered unable to earn an income, and trapped by the gender and financial dynamics of this crisis. (This one-minute video narrated by Jodi Foster illustrates how for women, the water crisis is personal.)

While the global water and sanitation crisis is the largest women's crisis of our time, it's also an unparalleled opportunity for women's empowerment.

For the past 22 years, Water.org has executed sustainable, community-led water and sanitation programs that ensure, by design, that women play a leading role. Women are at the center of project design and execution, education and training, and maintenance. Women serve on the locally-elected water committee, and receive financial and management training for the new water source. In the case of our WaterCredit program (which facilitates microloans for water and toilet access), women take out and repay loans, gaining a credit history and the benefits and status that come with it.

All of Water.org's programs help individuals and communities obtain the information, tools and resources they need to improve their water and sanitation situation for decades to come. And in the process, these programs set the stage for future opportunities.

Johnson & Johnson has been a supporter of Water.org's work to empower women for the past five years. Today, Johnson & Johnson is leveraging its support in a new way: by offering a matching donation to a Water.org program featured on the new Catapult fundraising site.

Catapult is the first funding platform dedicated to gender equality. It capitalizes on trends in crowdfunding and social media to provide a new way to connect people to projects that benefit women and children. Water.org is thrilled to work with Catapult, and is honored to be one of the first organizations with a program highlighted on its new site. Every dollar donated to Water.org's featured "Well Brings Clean Water New Hope to 300 People" program will be generously matched by Johnson & Johnson.

Through our individual and collective action this holiday season, we can make a profound difference in ensuring that mothers and daughters around the word have a fair and equal chance at a healthy, happy life together.

Catapulting Gender Equality with Clean Water

Catapult is where you can get involved in empowering women and girls. Launched in October 2012, Catapult is the first online funding site dedicated specifically to advancing gender equality, and already features 70 projects in more than 30 countries.

Catapult and Johnson & Johnson have teamed up to double your impact this giving season. Johnson & Johnson is supporting a matching gifts donation to their partners on Catapult-up to $50,000-from December 6 through January 31.