WSC Shines at YWCA USA National Conference
Members of the World Service Council returned from the June 2023 YWCA National Conference rejuvenated and re-inspired as YWCA USA turned a spotlight on our global work, and helped many new YWCA staff and volunteers understand the significant role that the World Service Council plays.
With the theme “Mission Forward: Building a Movement” — the national network of YWCAs across the country heard from YWCA World General Secretary Casey Harden and YWCA USA CEO Margaret Mitchell about the key link that the WSC plays to connect us globally. In her opening plenary statement, Margaret identified our global movement as one of nine areas of focus for the national movement.
In a workshop attended by an overflow crowd, Casey was joined by World Council Board member and WSC member, Andrea Arbogast, and World staff member, Caterina Lemp, senior specialist for Movement Building. They provided further details about the work of the World YWCA, its history and how significant the funds raised by the World Service Council supports its work.
In these somewhat troubling times around the world, the constancy of the World YWCA, in its work spanning over 130 years to fight for women’s rights and human rights around the world, affirms that positive change can happen. Now operating in 100 countries, the World YWCA connects and mobilizes women and girls to transform their lives and communities.
Our dollars raised by the WSC each year are critical toward meeting the 2015 resolution to achieve the World YWCA’S GOAL for 2035 — to have 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create a justice, gender equality, and a world without violence and war: leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all women.
This ambitious transformative goal to take us to a better world is consistent with YWCA historically, to look forward and to be both brave and clear headed in our direction. And operationally within the WSC, we are looking toward expanding our membership, and building an even broader base of women and allies to provide the financial support and resources that will go to the World movement. Consider joining us and donating in our endeavor to reach this goal and lift the lives of women and girls around the world.
World YWCA Takes on UN CSW 67
More than 65 YWCA leaders from 20+ countries gathered in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women hearings March 4-17 to engage in meaningful conversations and advocate for the rights of women, young women and girls. Multiple events by YWCAs of Palestine, Canada, Japan and World YWCA were complementary with the Goal 2035 of the World YWCA movement. Various conversations were hosted by World YWCA with the leaders around the soon-to-happen World YWCA Council later this year. In addition to the presenters, there were YWCA delegates from USA, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines Haiti, Australia, and the World Service Council.
The World YWCA delegation was welcomed to New York by the YWCA USA with a reception headed by CEO Margaret Mitchelll and USA Board Chair Tina Herrara, The event was held at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center and many other local YWCA members attended. World YWCA General Secretary Casey Harden and World Board Chair Mira Rizek headed up the World delegation. Representing World Service Council was Catherine Hickey, Rima and Doris Salah, YWCA Brooklyn CEO Martha Kamber Danika Ali.
Catherine Hickey reported on breakfast event co-sponsored by the World YWCA and Australian government titled Rise Up! This World YWCA initiative is a road map developed by young women from the South Seas/Asian Pacific Region for young women with the intention to contribute to their empowerment in order to reach full leadership potential. Two of the speakers grew up in the YW movement, the third was an outside recruit who had lost her job in the tourism industry. The three young women gave moving narratives of their work. It includes the following key components.
- Develop a deeper understanding of human rights.
- Learn to identify challenges and opportunities to reach your full leadership potential.
- Understand priority issues affecting women, young women, and girls.
- Develop a diversity of advocacy skills.
- Enhance your sense of self-esteem and confidence.
- Develop the ability to influence policy/.
- Learn how to build, facilitate, and practice safe spaces.
- Build increased connection with and support from peers.
Every year Japan brings a lively contingent of young women who give a thoughtful, well researched presentation on contemporary problems facing young women and girls. This year they focused on “Social Media and Sexual Exploitation.”
On International Women’s Day, the World YWCA led a parallel event called “Wholeads?: Young Women Smashing Power Structures by Feminist Consultations.” Another event co-sponsored by the World YWCA was a session on “Perspectives on Empowering Women through Effective Collaboration in Challenging Contexts.”
YWCA Palestine held a powerful panel on “Conflict, SBGV and Technology: Learnings from Young Women in Gaza.” And longtime WSC member and UN Deputy Rima Salah participated in a panel spoke to the importance of civil society involvement in UN policy to affect real change.
Texts on Gender Equality: Empowerment in Digital Age approved at UN CSW 67
Following the lengthy negotiations that continued late into the night, the Commission concluded its 67th session, approving a set of agreed conclusions focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girl in the context of innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age.
Sima Sami Bahous, Under-Secretary-General for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), in closing remarks, said: “This year’s agreed conclusions are game-changing and bring forward our vision of a more equal and connected world for women and girls in all their diversity.” The ultimate success of the agreed conclusions lies in how the international community will collectively take them forward, she said, declaring that: “As we leave here now, let us bring the might of our combined determination to translate them into reality for all women and girls.” The agreed conclusions provide a global framework to enable the development of international norms and standards for digital technology that will encourage the increased participation of women and girls.
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes was when General Secretary Antonio Guterres emphasized the need to overhaul the patriarchal structures that perpetuate gender inequality, especially in the technology sector. He announced he is committed to do everything in his power to raise $300 million over the next three years for women’s organizations and human rights defenders in crisis situations. He claimed it would not be easy, but we will do everything to make sure that we are able to fundraise properly in this regard.
- Speakers underscored the importance of citizen-generated and gender-disaggregated data to tackle inequality, while others offered suggestions on closing gender gaps in care work, technology and geospatial services and nutrition.
- Women and girls from all corners of the earth and of all ages and identities underscored the importance of inclusion, gender equitable assistive technology and gender transformative approaches in achieving gender equality in the digital spheres.
- Strong legislative, policy and institutional frameworks rooted in gender-based data are critical not only to empower women and girls on digital platforms, but ensure those platforms have an intersectional lens that appropriately represent the full range of identities.
- Youth representatives pointed to barriers, both offline and online, that prevent their participating in information and communications technology sectors, and the policies and processes needed to enable such participation.
- Delegates presented on their national efforts to implement the 2018 agreed outcomes to on challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and empowerment of rural women and girls.
- Speakers emphasized the importance of increased participation of women and girls in digital technology and innovation, and their engagement as students and professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as crucial to economies around the world, as well as the global transition to sustainability.
- Speakers renewed calls for investments to bridge the gender digital divide, ensure a safe digital environment and ensure the full participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math.
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.