A brief moment with the World YWCA General Secretary on expected breakthroughs at IWS and World YWCA Council 2011
Since 1898, every four years, the World YWCA has held its World Council and since 1999 it has organised the International Women’s Summit (IWS). Each Council has led to steps forward and brought achievements towards women’s rights throughout the world. We asked Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the General Secretary of the World YWCA, about her hopes for any particular breakthroughs at the 2011 World Council.
“The first breakthrough for the IWS and World Council is to reclaim the women’s agenda as a human rights agenda. Investing in and creating safe spaces for women and girls is about human rights. IWS and World Council are beyond gender mainstreaming. As a movement, together and with our partners, we wish to reclaim human rights for all women. YWCAs around the world affirm that women and girls demand the protection and respect of their rights. I consider this to be a major breakthrough and a transformative approach for the movement, because it shifts the way YWCAs work to go beyond service,” said Gumbonzvanda.
Gumbonzvanda further reminded us that the YWCA movement will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Young Women’s Internship Programme. To date some forty young women have walked through the doors of the World YWCA Office in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing with them their youthful energy, their cultural experiences and their eagerness to learn and contribute to the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and girls. The Internship Programme has been a proven method for empowering and giving safe spaces to young women. “It is a major breakthrough for us because it affirms the commitment the movement has in investing in young women. The individual young women who have been part of the internship programme will come together at World YWCA Council 2011. This is also a great achievement,” said Gumbonzvanda.
The IWS outcome document will be very important. “We expect the priority recommendation to be significant in engaging governments to achieve their commitment to raise the agenda for women and children by 2015. As a movement in over 120 countries, we will come together and say loudly and with a clear voice that this is the agenda for the next ten years,” said the General Secretary of the World YWCA.
“My last hope for a breakthrough is a very personal one,” she said. “There will be hundreds of women coming to the summit for the first time. It is an ideal arena for creating a safe space, as well as for empowering and bringing together women coming from their villages and women leaders, such as Mary Robinson, Michelle Bachelet, Ruth Dreifuss. The fact that women will travel to Zurich from all over the world to meet in one space in order to share their thoughts across diversity will be a major accomplishment for us. Within that space women will lift their work and voice. I can’t wait for that day!”
At IWS and World Council 2011, hundreds of women from different walks of life will gather to speak in one voice around the theme Women Creating a Safe World and to demand their human rights. The countdown to the event has impatiently begun!