The First Yes

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.

the words gripped me...mind and heart

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.

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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. 


willow stephens bio
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