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Imagine having to walk 220 kilometres a week, just to provide necessities for your family.

Jo Stanley

By JO STANLEY

If you’re anything like me, your day today will have consisted of rushing from kinder drop off, to gym, to work, to grocery shopping, to kinder pick up, to swimming lessons, to home, to cook dinner, to more work, to bath time, to bed.

And if you’re anything like me, you would have dressed for style rather than comfort so by the end of the day, just before you fall into a blessed exhausted slumber, your feet are KILLING you!

But as you’re sitting on the edge of your bed rubbing your aching soles, I want you to imagine a different life.

I want you to imagine Ang who lives in Laos.  Ang is a single mother of three, who agreed to wear a pedometer for international aid organization, CARE.

On her first day, Ang walked 95,511 steps.  That’s around 60 km.  In one day.  The total for her week was 220 kms.  That’s just collecting rice, water, firewood.  Basic needs for her family, needs that prevent her from earning an income, and entrap her in more poverty.

Now imagine Fikere who is 16 and lives in Ethiopia.  She is responsible for collecting enough water for her family to drink, cook and wash with every day.

Until recently Fikere had to walk many hours each week to the river, which is often muddy, contaminated and caused her family to be sick, and meant that that she missed at least three classes of school a week.

If Fikere was prevented from going to school, she too would have been trapped in a cycle of poverty like Ang.

And just before you fall into bed and let the last of your day float away, imagine 12-year-old Sopheap in Cambodia, whose journey through a forest every day for firewood terrifies her, because of fear of ghosts and attackers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m heading straight back in to my daughter’s bedroom to give her beautiful sleeping head another kiss.  Thank God she is safe.

Imagine walking in the shoes of these women.

I’m a daughter to a single mother, sister to two sisters, and mother of a little girl.  I have been raised, guided, loved and inspired by women my whole life.

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Conversely, I believe in women.  I am driven to change gender inequality whenever it is within my reach, but in that struggle to claim what is our due, I am intensely aware that there is privilege in that fight.

For my own daughter, as I focus on growing in her a sense of self belief, a healthy body image and ambition for whatever dreams she can conceive of, I know I have the freedom to do so because, unlike Fikere and Sopheap, she is safe, she is fed, and her education is taken care of.

Equally, I know my own life, in all it’s hectic variety of experiences, is as wonderful as it is because my single mother of three, unlike Ang, was able to work her way through university to better her job prospects.

And so it is because I am so grateful for my own and my precious little girl’s privilege, and because I want women and girls like Ang, Fikere and Sopheap to overcome poverty, that I have committed to be a part of CARE’s Walk in Her Shoes Challenge (www.walkinhershoes.org.au).

It’s not hard.  I’m just going to walk 50 kms in one week.  50 kms, drinking clean fresh water along my way.  You could do it too.  If you can’t manage 50 kms, do 25 kms.  If you think I’m a wuss, you could do 100 k’s.

Whatever you can fit into your crazy life would be great.  Because facts show that when women are equipped with the proper resources, they help lift families and entire communities out of poverty.  That’s worth the sore feet.

To join Jo and walk in the shoes of women and girls like Ang, Fikere or Sopheap, visit www.walkinhershoes.org.au

Jo Stanley is a comedian, writer, actor and presenter.  She spent 10 years as one of Melbourne’s most loved breakfast radio entertainers on the Matt and Jo Show on Fox FM, interviewing superstars, making celebrities out of local listeners and crossing the boundaries of sharing Too Much Information.  Her outstanding radio talents are now shared with 52 stations around Australia on the Weekend Breakfast Show. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or visit her website.

CARE’s Walk In Her Shoes Challenge is an annual event that encourages Australians to walk and raise funds to support women and girls living in poverty. Since Walk In Her Shoes launched in 2011, more than 8,000 Australians have joined the Challenge, raising almost $1.7 million.  In 2014, Walk In Her Shoes will be from 17 to 23 March and for the first time participants will choose to walk up to 100km during the week. To register please visit: http://www.walkinhershoes.org.au/.