The 95th Annual Meeting of the World Service Council (WSC), held Nov. 12th at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City, was rich in content and well attended. The program re-energized all of us in the work we do for women and children here and abroad.
YWCA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron gave an impressive report with news that the YWCA USA had moved its ranking from one star to four star status with Charity Navigator and the fact that YWCA USA has had a budget surplus for the past two years. She talked about ambitious plans for development and further strengthening on mission impact, and alerted all of us to watch for a major boost in brand awareness coming in January.
With the primary focus on World Council that took place in Bangkok in October, World President Deborah Thomas-Austin, entertained all with a video overview of the conference agenda including performances, presentations, and cultural highlights. She then reported on the work of the World YWCA over the past year that included a heartfelt thanks to the World Service Council for its generous contributions that support the internship program, the General Secretary’s emergency fund, and capacity building for YWCAs around the world.
Deb Stock led a power point panel on World Council with reports by Carolyn Flowers and Joelle Logue on the business that was conducted, ceremonies held, plenary speakers and workshops, and, of course, the Envisioning of 2035 with the goal of engaging 100 million young women and girls by that date. Jenna Lodge Foster was elected to the World YWCA Board. She is a young woman from Virginia who has had much involvement with the World YWCA as a short term intern and as an international conference delegate.
During her report on the many activities of the World Service Council over the past year, WSC Chair Connie Tate announced that Debra Stock had been named co-chair of the WSC. She also commented that Abigail Disney was unable to attend due to promotion travel around her two new movies: Trials of Spring and The Armor of Light, both of which have been recently released and getting good press. Trials of Spring covers six women from Northern Africa and their roles in the midst of and post the Arab Spring. The Armor of Light digs deep into the religious issues facing proponents of gun rights in America. Watch for them in your respective cities.
Rima Salah, Under Secretary at the UN, and Liz Nash described some of their work with the UN. As part of a special UN Peace Commission, Rima gave details on her extensive travels to analyze UN peacekeeping efforts and the Commission’s recommendations for more UN engagement with Civil Society in conflict countries and the importance of having women at negotiation tables.
Carole Markus announced six new WSC members to the WSC: Jean Carroll, Carole Coppens, Josephine Daugherty, Donna Duffy, Helen Kim and Ellen Sovik. And Joyce Mims gave a moving tribute to two members who died over the past year: Bette Takahashi and Mary Wolf.
After a networking lunch, filmmaker and former World YWCA intern Afia Nathaniel showed her compelling movie, Dukhtar (daughter) that was filmed in Pakistan and focuses on the widespread problem of forced child marriage. Afia generously gave time for a Q&A as all were impressed by her work and advocacy around this subject.
The program ended with hopes for a reunion of many at the UN CSW sessions in March and at the 96th WSC annual meeting next fall.
-Joelle Logue, WSC Secretary