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World YWCA Overview

The World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA) is a global network of women leading social and economic change in over 120 countries worldwide. The World YWCA advocates for peace, justice, human rights and care for the environment and has been at the forefront of raising the status of women for more than a century. The World YWCA develops women’s leadership to find local solutions to the global inequalities women face. Each year, it reaches more than 25 million women and girls through work in over 22,000 communities. Through advocacy, training and development the World YWCA empowers women, including young women, to lead social change.

This grassroots development experience shapes the organisation’s global advocacy agenda. The World YWCA work is inspired by Christian principles and a commitment to women’s full and equal participation in society. It is a volunteer membership movement inclusive of women from many faiths, backgrounds, and cultures. The World YWCA affirms that women’s human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.



108 associations

12 countries working towards affiliation

20,000 communities

7.6 million annual programme participants

25 million women and girls – global outreach

3 million members worldwide

A human rights framework and the Millennium Development Goals guide the YWCA advocacy and services, which seek to empower women and girls and bring practical experience from the community level to national, regional and international policy makers. The movement is also guided in its work by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, the Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS, as well as the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The World YWCA works in collaboration with many partner organisations and networks to advance its advocacy and programme work, including women’s networks, ecumenical, youth and international organisations, and UN agencies operating with women and young women.

The vision of the World YWCA is a fully inclusive world where justice, peace, health, human dignity, freedom and care for the environment are promoted and sustained by women’s leadership. To attain this vision, the World YWCA has developed a strategic framework adopted by the World YWCA Council in 2011 that guides its work from 2012 -2015. The framework embraces a rights-based approach and is implemented with Member Associations, partners and policy makers.

The framework identifies three goals:

Goal 1: Women's Intergenerational Leadership

The World YWCA builds the leadership of women and girls to develop the most effective solutions to the issues affecting their lives and communities. As a movement the World YWCA is committed to ensuring women, young women and girls exercise leadership in their own lives and communities and advocate for women's rights. Through engaging in transformative, shared and intergenerational leadership the World YWCA aims to mobilise women, especially young women as advocates, champions and leaders on priority issues of Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights (SRHR), HIV and Violence Against Women (VAW). One of the key actions identified in the strategic framework 2012-2015 encompasses developing and adapting leadership tools and models that affirm the skills and experience of women of all ages and provide opportunities for global exposure and advocacy, including mentoring, internship, intergenerational dialogue and training.

Young women are a major focus of YWCA leadership activities. As young women play a central role in sustaining the work of the World YWCA, the movement has a constitutional mandate to allocate 25% of all decision-making positions to young women under 30 years old. While prioritising young women’s leadership, YWCAs will promote models of shared, intergenerational and transformative leadership among women of all ages.

Priority Advocacy areas:

  • Young Women's Leadership
  • Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV
  • Eliminate Violence Against Women, promote women in peace building

Goal 2: Women's Rights

The World YWCA promotes social, economic, cultural, religious and political rights of women and girls through advocacy and related programmes and services. The World YWCA has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Education, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) and acts as a voice for women at the United Nations participating annually at the UN Commissions on the Status of Women, the Human Rights Council and other global policy forums. As a movement the World YWCA delivers and advocates for effective interventions, programmes and services on VAW, SRHR and HIV. Through engaging with national and local religious institutions the World YWCA movement advances the rights of women, young women and girls and challenges harmful religious and cultural practices and norms.

Goal 3: Movement Building and Good Governance

The World YWCA has developed a practical guide to ensure a level of management and practise that is effective and efficient. By adopting The Standards of Good Management and Accountability for YWCAs, Member Associations are able to strengthen and scale up the impact and outreach of their programmes and services. As a movement the World YWCA aims to ensure the necessary human and financial resources to sustain the movement's work at all levels and contribute to solidarity, partnerships and networking within the World YWCA movement.

If you wish to get further information, please visit the  World YWCA Website