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Grace and Grit: Celebrating Water Mission’s #WomenHumanitarians on World Humanitarian Day

Grace and grit — these are two of a million things that our female staff in Charleston and abroad bring to the table every day. This year, on World Humanitarian Day, we join the United Nations and other organizations in celebrating the women that make our work possible — delivering clean, safe water and God’s love to people in need!

What is World Humanitarian Day?

In 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated August 19 as World Humanitarian Day to honor workers who have risked or lost their lives in humanitarian service. The day calls us to recognize the suffering of millions of civilians caught in conflict. The day also recognizes the steadfast service of workers who are subsequently targeted, treated as threats, or prevented from helping people in need.

The 2019 celebration has been set to pay tribute to #WomenHumanitarians.

Vivian Akinyi, Kenya Restore project manager, training a community member in Segera Village
Why are we celebrating women humanitarians around the world today?

On this World Humanitarian Day, we honor the work of unsung heroes who have long been working on the front lines in their own communities — grandmothers, mothers, and daughters in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. In every project we implement, female community members lead water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) trainings. Many of them are members of WASH committees that educate and empower others on healthy, sustainable WASH practices.

We consider humanitarians to not only be employees of nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations; humanitarians are also community leaders and members who are agents of change within their villages, districts, and countries. They are the true source of lasting change.

Water Mission staff testing water in the Nyarugusu Refugee Settlement

We also salute the efforts of women aid workers from across the world, who invest their hearts, smarts, and hard work every day. They are essential in our fight to end the global water crisis, which affects one-third of the world’s population.

Our #womenhumanitarians serve and lead on all our teams, from community development and project management to public relations and engineering.

Women are part of all Water Mission teams, both at our Charleston headquarters and globally. In our nine in-country offices around the world, we have nearly 40 female staff members. They live in Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti. Some female staff travel to countries beyond this list during humanitarian crises or natural disasters. They serve wherever God calls them and wherever their expertise is needed.

We celebrate Water Mission female staff in every department at HQ, spanning community development to accounting
How are women making a positive impact?

We believe that having women on Water Mission’s various country teams allows us to see and do things differently: our staff has been described as approachable and professional, and as having tender hearts and strong backs, when dealing with conflict and working to provide safe water solutions. In turn, our female staff has inspired young women to engage with, invest in, and speak up for their communities.

The presence of female engineers and technicians on site also encourages engagement among female community members, including young girls. When our female engineers traveled to Kenya this spring, women and girls were keener to learn about how our systems and processes work. Thus, they were able to more actively and confidently participate in building up the material, physical, and social health of their communities. Our staff in Kenya have also worked with local churches in mentoring girls through a Living Water discipleship and mentorship ministry.

Plant operator Faviola Mendez Estrada gets bottles ready to fill with safe water in Guadalupe Victoria, Mexico
How can you celebrate and support women humanitarians with Water Mission?

We invite you to leave a message of encouragement for our female staff and community members on Facebook or Instagram, where we’ll be posting photos, quotes, and facts this week. We’ll make sure to relay your kind words!

You can also support women humanitarians by supporting the causes that are near and dear to them. The gift of clean, safe water directly and significantly impacts women and girls. When you support Water Mission, you are investing in the physical health and economic resilience of millions of people and investing in the hardwork that women humanitarians do every day.

Your gift of clean, safe water helps women humanitarians ensure the health and safety of women and girls around the world.