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Try to imagine your morning routine without water. Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, using the bathroom, making tea or coffee. Practically every step requires a lot of water — clean and easily accessible.

For millions of women around the world, the morning routine is very different.

In developing countries around the world, women spend up to five hours every day collecting water from distant and often polluted sources, returning to their villages carrying 40-pound jerry cans on their backs. reports that women and children in 45 developing countries bear the primary responsibility for water collection. Bodies break down under the weight and often the water makes families sick. Some 50 diseases are related to poor water quality and lack of sanitation. And it’s the children under five who suffer the most.

Dignity and safety are hard to come by in a world without water and sanitation. Women and girls must sneak off into a secluded field in the dark of night for privacy, where some will be molested or raped. When a girl reaches puberty, she is either humiliated at school or misses several days each month — many drop out altogether just to manage menstruation. It’s an unfair reality that keeps millions of young women in poverty, with no way out.

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