A Commemorative Book Tells the Story of the World Service Council
YWCA members around the globe celebrate World YWCA Day annually on April 24, and this year the World Service Council is delighted to share with you a link to a Centennial Booklet marking 100 years of World Service Council service. Compiled by Joelle Logue with contributions by many WSC members, the articles and photographs describe the many dimensions of the Council’s international reach through the World YWCA. The role WSC has played over the past century has supported critical programming efforts of the World YWCA to advance development and leadership of women and girls around the globe. The booklet, while offering the opportunity to appreciate the needs we have met along the way, is also a reminder that we must be constantly ready to meet new needs as circumstances evolve in this imperfect world.
Watching the daily news of harrowing events in Ukraine with devastating impact throughout Eastern and Western Europe reminds us of our historic roots when the YWCA was asked to help rebuild YWCAs in Europe after both World Wars. It is in this same context that the WSC has created a special Emergency Fund available to help national associations in those countries that are serving women and girls impacted by this conflict. What this unimaginable crisis has taught us is that life can be perilous and no one knows where in the world the next natural or man-made disaster may occur to which the YWCA will need to respond. Thus, the sustaining flexibility of the WSC in cooperation with the World YWCA is a resource that must be prepared to respond.
As you review the Centennial Booklet with this link https://online.fliphtml5.com/nbye/futl/ keep in mind the importance of our global movement and consider making a generous donation to the World Service Council so it can continue to be a supportive arm with a long reach.
WSC Establishes Ukraine Emergency Fund
History has a way of repeating itself and sadly we are witnessing again a horrific war in Europe provoked by Russia against the sovereign democracy of Ukraine. In response to this devastating assault the World Service Council has established a Ukraine Emergency Fund. Just like the YWCA was there to help rebuild YWCAs in Europe in the aftermath of two world wars, the YWCA will be ready to help YWCAs in Eastern Europe rebuild and provide needed services to thousands of refugees who have been displaced.
Donations to the fund now will help the World YWCA have the critical resources to meet the moment when media attentions recede post combat and NGOs experienced in war zone relief operations suspend operations. The plan for the Fund is to have long term implications to help the YWCAs in that region to determine how it can respond to the needs of women and girls in their local communities and their country’s altered state once resolution has been established. In addition, it will be able to help neighboring countries deal with refugees who fled their war- torn country.
Launching services will be complex – whether it is logistical such as securing locations at which services can be provided, obtaining equipment to train women in new skills, offering childcare as well as meeting other needs. Just like the pandemic, war has always had a disproportional adverse effect on women and children. We need your help to insure they have the tools to overcome the trauma of war and return to a sense of normalcy.
Their future is at stake.
Members of the World Service Council, YWCA USA and World YWCA members and guests came together virtually for the 101st meeting of the Council Oct. 22, 2021 to kick off our next century of service. Calling on all generations of visionaries, the event aspired to re-imagine a more equitable world for women and girls.
Keynoting the event was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who just stepped down as Executive Director of UN Women where she has served since 2013. Considered one of our own, Phumzile was Youth Director at the World YWCA from 1983 to 1989 during which time she focused on job creation for young women and promoted development education in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In her address Phumzile spoke about the illusion of equality that some women in the world might have while ignoring the numbers that accurately dispute that fact. She emphasized that while women and girls continue to make progress they have not come far enough. Representation of women leaders is a problem with only 24% percent as global leaders politically and only 10% leading in the private sector. She added that not only did the pandemic disproportionately affect women negatively citing increased gender-based violence and lost income, but women are under-represented in fixing what occurred during the pandemic. Digital literacy and limited access to virtual platforms created enormous lost revenue for women. It is time for intergenerational leaders across the world to join together to address these issues and the YWCA has always been a foundational model for putting women in spaces where they are heard.
Attendees also heard updates from World YWCA General Secretary Casey Harden, and YWCA USA National Board President Tina Herrera on their plans moving forward in these challenging times. Casey assured all that the World YWCA was able to quickly transition to a virtual model during the pandemic with new ways of sharing and communicating. She stated that the World YWCA is not static but is “humming and moving,” and she thanked the World Service Council for its efforts to support the YWCA in having a safe space leadership model and for supporting its ground work.
In addition, perspectives were shared on a foundation from which to build by former World General Secretary Musimbi Kanyoro who served in that role for eight years, World YWCA President Mira Rizeq, a longtime General Secretary of YWCA Palestine, plus Muna Killingback, one of the first interns to serve at the World YWCA.
To get a younger perspective we explored how to strategize on what lies ahead for women and girls with a panel of young women featuring Annie Priyanka Kumar from YWCA Secunderabad and Hannah Athaliah James from YWCA Papua New Guinea. Musimibi joined the panel as well and Muna moderated asking insightful questions. Discussed were challenges in how to transform power structures, eliminating privilege in decision-making instances, gaining financial independence, overcoming western patriarchal norms that came with colonization and elevating voices outside of political structures. It was noted that the World YWCA had the foresight to always lead the world on issues that barred women from equal status – all members having an equal number of votes at the table, addressing child care spaces for women, and denying privilege and promoting inclusion in all its policies.
A highlight of the meeting included honoring exceptional past Chairs of World Service Council, Joyce Mims and Connie Tate. These women have been true leaders whose devotion and dedication to the work of the Council has maintained the international support that began a century ago while reinforcing the strong bond between the YWCA USA and the World YWCA.
In addition, Dr. Wanda Hendricks, who attended the 2018 World Service Council Annual Meeting, spoke about her book, The Life of Madie Hall Xuma: Black Women’s Global Activism During Jim Crow and Apartheid, which is about to be released. The book follows Madie Hall from her YWCA experiences in the USA to her marriage to Dr. Alfred B. Xuma and her move to South Africa, where she was involved with starting YWCA groups in villages. It continues with her role on the World YWCA Executive Committee, plus international leadership roles on women’s rights, etc. More information can be found on the Illinois press website http://go.illinois.edu/s22hendricks
This event, guided by current World Service Co-chairs Elaine Carlson and Mildred Morrison, was a true celebration of the work we’ve done during our first century while we ardently explored new ideas and actions for the century ahead. View the presentation below.