Delivering Programs to Answer International Women's Day Call to 'Make it Happen'

Every day, millions of women throughout the world put their lives in danger simply by getting a drink of water or using the toilet.

According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 780 million people, roughly 11 percent of the world's population, lack access to safe water and almost 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation.

Research sponsored by Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program and other organizations found that women are disproportionately impacted when these basic human needs are not met.

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LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (8/6/14)-Tabitha Musonda collects water from a water point that was built in May 2014, and provides water for 25 households, or approximately 300 people, in the Chazanga community outside Lusaka. Habitat for Humanity Zambia has helped to build six water points in the community, as part of their Rural, Urban and Peri-Urban Program.

In Vietnam, for instance, where indoor bathrooms are not common in low-income homes, women and girls risk harassment and attack when they use public toilets.

In countries like Tanzania, girls are expected to bear the burden of walking an average of four miles a day to fetch clean water, reducing their ability to attend school.

By offering access to adequate housing and basic services, Habitat for Humanity is giving women across the globe a greater ability to work, feed their families, and allow their daughters to get an education.

In Mexico, Macedonia and several other countries, our women-focused projects provide financial literacy training and affordable microfinance loans for home improvement projects such as indoor bathrooms, energy efficient kitchens or an extra room for a home-based business. The goal is to create safe, stable environments for women and girls to develop, flourish and break the cycle of poverty.

We work to use simple and cost-effective technology to bring clean water and sanitation into homes and communities.

BioSand water filters -- in which water is filtered through layers of sand, gravel and liquid -- help provide clean drinking water in rural communities. Community groups help build pipelines from water sources directly into homes or to water points in a community.

Hand-washing stations near latrines and hygiene training help to reduce diarrheal diseases.

These simple steps to improve health and reduce the travel time to collect water allow women and girls to secure jobs and attend school, as well as reduce threats of violence.

In order to build a better world, it's important to ensure that women are visible agents of change. This International Women's Day, I invite you to join us in our efforts to empower women and help make strides in improving their lives and communities.

Habitat For Humanity is a partner of Cisco CSR. Cisco sponsors The Huffington Post's ImpactX section.

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