Early this spring, I was perusing the Internet. It was one of those nights when I would have usually ended up squandering time on Pinterest or online shopping for things I don’t need, but this night was different.
I came across an article that I would have normally clicked passed. On a good day, I might read the opening paragraph and quickly move on to something more palatable, but this captured my attention.
I read about young women in the Middle East who are displaced, sexually exploited, and sold for profit. Girls as young as 9 years old are sold for less than $200 USD (read the full story here). Slavery is alive and well—a reality that is so far removed from the world in which I live. I was sickened and shocked. In that moment I realized I have long neglected my awareness of this subject. I have failed to act in solidarity with women across the globe. The words gripped me and the message lodged itself in my mind and heart, although at the time I didn’t know what to do about it.
Fast-forward a few months. One of my favorite musicians, Kimbra, posted a video blog about her recent trip to Ethiopia with an organization called Tirzah. If you’re reading this blog post, you may already be aware of Tirzah’s mission: Investing in Women, Changing the World. She spoke beautifully about the work they were doing. In Ethiopia, one of the 50 countries in which they work, Tirzah partners with a local organization to work with HIV positive women and their children. The children receive an education; the women are equipped with skills they need to start sustainable businesses. These seemingly small changes are making a profound and generational impact on these women, their children, and the communities in which they live. This story awoke the dormant seeds that had been planted in me months prior.
I wanted in on this.
Injustice, structural poverty, and violence towards women are enormous topics. It’s paralyzing to even consider changing the situation. Many of us don’t know how to be a part of the solution, so we avoid the topic altogether. As for me, I’m done sitting idly by. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I have made the decision to care. I have made the decision to join in the conversation.
And so I set out on a journey of small “yesses.” I will choose to be conscious of the issues women are facing; I will choose to use my voice to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves. I will offer up my time and resources to organizations like Tirzah who are making changes I believe in. We are after improvement, not perfection and we each have a part to play.
To read more about Tirzah or find out how you can get involved, click here.
Willow Stephens is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, CA.
When she is not making music, the Montana native loves spending time outdoors, cooking soup and drinking lots and lots of black coffee.