Current World YWCA News
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.
The World YWCA and the young women from our movement have, over the last few years, raised their voices and claimed their space at the African Union Summit. Since 2012 we have been advocating for a stronger presence and inclusion of young women, and young people in general, in matters regarding Africa’s future - and our work has paid off as during each gathering of Africa’s nations, the World YWCA’s presence is increasingly felt. Furthermore, it is our uniqueness in bringing the true voice of communities to the global platform that is increasingly respected and sought out.
Each year in the month of February, the World YWCA Office has the great pleasure of welcoming our new Programme Associates. For the last 22 years, the World YWCA has been selecting young women to spend a year working at the World Office in Geneva and learn and grow in an international environment. This year is an exciting World Council year and we have 3 new young women with us in the Office.
On February 5, 2015, the YWCA of Korea staged a “March Against Nuclear Energy”. More than 150 YWCA members from all over South Korea joined the “No More Nuke Campaign” to protest against the Kori Nuclear Power Plant in the southern most region of South Korea.