The YWCA World Service Council and YWCA USA hosted a reception on March 12 at the Yale Club to welcome the YWCA World Delegation (120 women from 50 countries) to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) sessions. The venue was a perfect setting for networking and relaxing after a day of training and consultation. Delegates from USA, Canada, Australia, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Liberia, Honduras, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Sweden, Suriname, Taiwan, and Tanzania enjoyed a bevy of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
A feature of the evening was the introduction of new World YWCA General Secretary Malayah Harper, who spoke about the challenges ahead while emphasizing the resolve to meet the goal of engaging 100 million young women by 2035. She pointed out the difference of the YWCA’s having five years over the CSW goal of a 50/50 planet of equality by 2030 and said she was glad for the extra five years especially in this global political climate. To the young women delegates in attendance, she challenged them to be transformational leaders who will bring the much-needed change, and she proudly praised the two-day Young Women’s Forum that has grown in importance as a focal point of CSW and was initiated by the World YWCA.
Other speakers included Interim YWCA CEO Casey Harden who welcomed the delegates from around the world and described how YWCA USA has become engaged more prominently with the global movement. World Service Council Chair Connie Tate also provided some history of the World Service Council’s role in the world movement and introduced key guests Rima and Doris Salah, Mary Luke, and Michaela Walsh.
Two young women delegates spoke emotionally about the hardships and concerns they have experienced in their countries. Justina Musa, a young mother and student from South Sudan, testified to the horrors of girl rape in exchange for money, and early forced marriage. She thanked YWCA leaders for the support she received that gave her a new life. Masina Tiete from Samoa spoke about the concerns Samoans have with climate change and the rising waters that have already taken lives and continue to threaten life and property.
The Sunday night reception capped off a full day of activity at the Young Women’s Forum and Consultation Day sessions and served as a pep rally for Monday’s official opening of the two-week long 61st CSW. The priority theme for this year’s UN CSW is “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.”