Till it happens to you… World YWCA Council Day 5

16 October 2015

Vice-President Caitlin Sandercock, YWCA sisters from Aotearoa New Zealand, and President Kate Chipperfield, before the World Council welcome dinner with the Thai Royal family.

Vice-President Caitlin Sandercock, YWCA sisters from Aotearoa New Zealand, and President Kate Chipperfield, before the World Council welcome dinner with the Thai Royal family.

A delegation of YWCA Canberra members, Board Directors and staff are currently at the 28th World YWCA Council in Bangkok, Thailand, as part of the YWCA Australia delegation. They will be participating in knowledge sharing, collaborating, and setting the strategic directions for the movement for the next four years. We’ll be sharing their reflections and experiences through our blog. Today, we hear from YWCA Canberra President, Kate Chipperfield.

Till it happens to you…. The hauntingly powerful lyrics of Lady Gaga that captured a room of women dressed in black as a symbol of strength in support of sisters who have been victims of gender based violence. A flash mob stopped this morning’s business meeting at World YWCA Council with a single message to across the world – in no place, in no time, can violence against women ever be tolerated. Thursdays in Black is a global campaign to address gender-based violence, calling on all women and men to wear black as a sign of support every Thursday. It’s a simple way we can all stand our ground and connect with our sisters and friends across the world on such an important issue.

Day 5 of the World YWCA Council considered the theme of sustainability. Across the movement, associations are investigating way to ensure the sustainability, and importantly the success of their organisations. We are all experiencing challenges to our business – with a changing global economic landscape, we are seeing a decrease in government funding, although demand for our services and work is continuing to increase. How do we ensure we can reach our goal of 2035 to positively impact and advance the lives of 100 million young women and girls? Our speakers throughout the day spoke of the need for us to look and think differently, be creative and innovative and bold. I won’t deny that this is difficult. In Canberra we continually ask ourselves what else can we be doing, and at the national level our Sustainability Project is considering how we can be working better together to extend the Y’s reach and impact.

The Envisioning 2035 proposal set out a guiding framework for us all to inform our business and approach. Challenging the traditional power structures around gender and age bias is vital if we are to achieved intergenerational leadership and real change. While we can reflect on the amazing work that we have done, from micro-financing opportunities, skills and jobs training, to childcare, there is still so much more to do. The reality we face is how to translate the passion, commitments and heart that flow through this movement into funding to support our much needed work.

The key messages I took from the day centred around the need to embrace technology and investigate effective options to foster digital inclusion, and to connect across the globe, and the development of innovative social enterprises and the importance of economic empowerment of women to achieve financial equality and decision-making. It was encouraging and inspiring to listen to the stories from Y’s throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and America to understand how they are growing their work and balancing it with our fundamental principles as a movement. I felt privileged to promote the incredible work of Canberra and share our experiences of patience and belief in supporting and growing our programs.

World Council has created an incredible opportunity to take stock of the ‘why’ in our work. Young women have taken a stand and we are seeing a renewed focus on the development of young women to ensure the pipeline of future leaders. It’s been an incredible experience to engage at an international level and connect the work we do locally. I am so excited by the opportunities going forward and how together we can continue to grow and support the movement both at home and across borders.

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