Current World YWCA News
The World YWCA took part in the proceedings of the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC28), held from March 2-27 2015, in Geneva. The World YWCA followed the annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child: “Towards Better Investment in the Rights of the Child” and more recently hosted a side event titled “Child, Early and Forced Marriage – Turning Recommendations into Actions”.
As week one of UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) draws to a close, the World YWCA has been engaged with a delegation of some 100 participants from 28 different countries. Through the collective efforts of the delegation the YWCA movement is advocating diligently to demand, claim and ensure that the review of Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) is inclusive of the voices of the world’s young women and girls and that the future Working Methods of CSW recognise the immense importance and significant contributions of civil society.
The National YWCA of Lebanon dedicated 2014 to rolling out a number of projects that seek to improve the well-being of young women, by providing them with skills to advance and enhance their participation in all areas of social and economic life. The projects focused on vocational and leadership training programmes. It enabled young women to improve their personal financial security and contribute to their participation at both local, national, private and public levels. The wider aim of the project is to offer leadership training programmes for young women to prepare them for decision-making roles both in the YWCA and in the wider community, as well as to prepare them for well-paid jobs to support themselves and their families who were impoverished due to displacement, higher living costs or death of a family member.
On 8 March, 2015 thousands, including 100 YWCA delegates, took to the streets of New York City on International Women’s Day, for a march led by UN Women, NGO CSW New York and special guests including the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the First Lady of the City of New York, Chirlane McCray, Nobel laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee, actors Paul Bettany and AnnaLynne McCord, and dozens of other women’s rights leaders and activists. The theme - “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights” – was the main chant of the march, with marchers bearing slogans demanding gender equality.
“Young women and girls must claim your space, do not wait for others to ‘allow’ you in. Demand to be heard, you have a right to be at the decision making table. Am I right, or I am right?” - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director.
Annually, on March 8 people from across the globe gather to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a day when all extraordinary women, young women and girls are honoured. The focus of IWD ranges from celebrations of respect, love, and gratefulness to women’s unique contribution to our communities and the world. It is also a day of commemorating women’s courageous economic, political, and social achievements. During this day of celebrating the many milestones achieved by the women’s movement, it is important to fire up actions addressing existing gender inequalities in order to make gender equality a lived reality for all.
Taking initiative from the EU’s assertion of its commitment to women’s rights issues, specifically, in ending domestic violence against women, the YWCA of Romania launched its own campaign to end violence against women last year- a necessary step for a nation where domestic violence is too often overlooked and accepted as the norm. The programme was comprised of three components: workshops, counselling services, and online advocacy.
The YWCA of Lesotho launched a successful programme last year in an effort to increase the dignity as well as the socio-economic status of Lesotho's domestic workers.
“In 1995 Member States took a huge step forward for my rights, I was a very young girl. Today I am one in 860 million girls and young women in this world still facing the critical issues identified in the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).” – stated Marcia Banasko, Co-Chair of the Young Women and Girls Forum.
Representing an immense victory for women and girls, the Malawian Parliament recently announced the passage of the National Marriage Law--a huge gain in the fight to end child marriage worldwide! The law raises the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years old. This is a crucial and necessary piece of legislation in a country where 50% of girls are married before the age of 18, and, subsequently, Malawi possesses one of the highest rates of maternal mortality. Even more unsettling, many young Malawian girls are forced into early marriages as their only viable option after experiencing kusasa fumbi, a practice of removing a girls “childhood dust” through forcing her to have sex with an older man. After undergoing this traumatic ritual, which also puts them at risk of becoming infected with HIV, most girls drop out of school and get married due to societal pressures. However, the National Marriage Law gives young Malawian women a legal voice to end this cycle.