Current World YWCA News
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.
Do you have a great idea for a project but are in need of funding? Then apply to the Power to Change Fund today. Applications are currently being accepted for 2015. All YWCA Member Associations are welcome to apply!
Statement to the 24TH African Union Summit, January 23-31, 2015
African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage
The African Union (AU) has made tremendous strides in establishing continental instruments for protecting the rights of women and girls, including the Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa and the Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. This is accompanied by the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, and the Youth Policy. However, African governments have realised that policies without robust interventions and programmes in communities are insufficient to bring the accelerated change necessary.
While 2014 came to an end on a festive note, filled with the euphoria of messages of peace and joy worldwide, 2015 has kicked off to a most horrifying and dramatic start in many parts of the world, leading to suffering, loss, shock, devastation, hatred and fear, as a result of ruthless, senseless acts.
The countdown has begun… In a little over 8 months – from October 11-16, 2015, YWCA women and young women from across the world will come together to celebrate the 28th World Council in Bangkok, Thailand. The World Council is the legislative authority and governing body of the World YWCA. During this auspicious event, representatives from each affiliated association will gather to elect the members of the World YWCA Board, to set priorities for the coming years work and to determine policies through resolutions.
Since the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the small Caribbean country has been struggling to get back on its feet. The YWCA of Haiti is one of the organisations that has been working tirelessly to contribute to reconstruction efforts. Haiti is a country in which it is key to invest in girls, as they are subject to violence, poverty, and health and education disparities. Adolescent girls in Haiti are largely unable to access education and economic opportunities, and have increasingly become heads of households providing the sole income, while also caring for siblings and elderly family members. Girls living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and other relocation sites, particularly those without parents, remain especially vulnerable to violence, and offering sex for food and/or for shelter is not uncommon. Adolescents and younger girls make up over 60% of reported rape cases. Due to the high levels of violence, 36% of women between the ages of 15-24 think that “wife-beating” is justified under certain conditions.