Worldwide, an estimated 780 million people do not have access to clean water (source: CDC). Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene and lack of access to sanitation contribute to a high rate of illness in vulnerable countries. In some communities, like Cerrito, Peru, clean water is sporadically available only through delivery by the local municipality. This forces people (mostly girls and women) to stay home and wait for deliveries, rather than pursuing studies or attending work.

HerStory participants Ruth and Irene from Otra Cosa in Peru noticed that women in their local community were adversely affected by the lack of connection to water mains. To address this issue, they created the Community Action Plan, Water for Change, to bring adequate and sustainable water supplies to all areas of Cerrito. In 2017, they traveled to New York to develop their plan at the Global HerStory Summit. With the support of their mentors and other HerStory leadership, the girls returned to Peru with a plan they were proud of and eager to set into motion.

Ruth, HerStory participant from Otra Cosa in Peru, shares about her CAP “Water for Change” at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March

Upon returning home, the girls met with community leaders and local government officials and got a plan finalized to bring water pipes to their neighborhood. The rest of the community was incredibly supportive and actively signed up to help. The girls are anticipating that the project will be completed in a few months. The locals are very excited to soon have ready access to water, and the women of the community are particularly excited to be able to focus on pursuing their aspirations.

“I want to enable and empower women in my community,” says Ruth. “Society needs to get used to seeing girls and women in leadership roles.”