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Athena Athanasiou, former World YWCA President dies

Athena Tsouderos Athanasiou, former World YWCA President
Athena Tsouderos Athanasiou, former World YWCA President

Athena Tsourderos Athanasiou, former World YWCA President (1967-1975) and President of the National Board of the YWCA of Greece has died. Born in 1920, Ms Athanasiou passed away on January 2, 2008.

Ms Athanasiou was first elected to the World YWCA Executive Committee in 1963, and was Chairperson of the Group of Consultants on Refugee work during that period. In 1967, at the World Council Meeting in Melbourne, Australia, she was elected President of the World YWCA, succeeding to Dr Una Porter, a post she held until 1975. In addition to her responsibilities for the World YWCA, she has been President of the National Board of the YWCA of Greece and had several terms as President of the YWCA of Athens.


Ms Athanasiou had a special interest in work with refugees and migrants, with which the YWCA of Greece was very active. In 1973, she was deeply involved in the six months study group on Migration Mobility which was organised jointly by her association and the YWCA of Belgium, and which brought together people from both receiving and sending countries. Another programme emphasis of the World YWCA in which she was particularly interested in was adult and vocational education.


The ecumenical aspects of the work of the YWCA also attracted the attention of Ms Athanasiou. She participated in the first encounters of women's organisation with Roman Catholic and Orthodox groups. She represented her own church, the Greek Orthodox, on the Women's Ecumenical liaison Group of the World Council of Churches and represented the World YWCA at several ecumenical meetings including the World Council of Churches Department for Cooperation of Men and Women in Church, Family and Society, 1966, and the WCC Committee of Ecumenical Action (1966)


Not only did Ms Athanasiou attend the World YWCA Council meetings of 1955 in England, 1959 in Mexico, 1963 in Denmark, 1967 in Australia, 1971 in Ghana, 1975 in Canada and 1979 in Greece, she also attended many national YWCA meetings, among them the National Conventions of the YWCAs of Canada, USA and Australia, the Triennial Conference of the YWCA of Great Britain, the Latin American Congresso and the West African Conference, Conference of European YWCAS in Jogny in 1965. In her role as President of the World YWCA she visited YWCAs in all parts of the world.


During her time as World YWCA President she was instrumental in the forming of the European YWCAs alliance.


Born in Greece and educated in Athens, she spent four months in 1960 in the USA studying welfare institutions on a State Department Exchange programme.


"There is nothing as powerful as people who put together their little courage, their common beliefs, their shared dedications, their common humanity in pursuance of their continued search for the fundamental truths and values that make life a little richer and its conditions a little more just”. From her opening address of the 1975 of World YWCA Council, Vancouver, Canada.


From the World office we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends and our thanks for her wonderful life of service to the YWCA of Greece and the World YWCA.

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