World YWCA Day Message from the General Secretary
"I am a woman, I have the right. We are women, we have the power"
Friends, colleagues, I invite you to join me in celebrating this year's World YWCA Day. Our special day, April 24. We have celebrated this day each year since 1943 when, as a movement we made the decision that we need that day, we need a day were we can come together to celebrate who we are. To share our experiences. To encourage each other. To reflect on the issues within our communities. To reach out to friends. To reach out to our neighbours. To connect. To connect on those issues that are confronting us at each moment. And therefore, each year, we choose a theme. A theme which enables us to reflect, to connect, to share, to embrace and to reach out. And for this year, 2012, we have a special theme. "I am a woman, I have the right". This is a theme that connects with who we are. A theme through which we are launching our advocacy campaign, which we will undertake in the next 4 years.
We want to recognise that as women, young women and girls the world over, we were born in the image of God, born in dignity, born with rights and with equality. We want, through this theme, to celebrate and to commit to the key values that shape who we are, the collective struggle to end discrimination against women. To empower women. To claim women's voices. And to enable women to live a full life, and a rich life. We were called by name, as it is said often in the Christian tradition. And when we may not be called by name, it also means, as was said at the 1993 International Human Rights Conference, that women's rights are human rights. And for us as the YWCA movement, we are affirming women, girls, and young women, women all over, women in our diversities. Diversities of context of livelihoods, of ability, women in the various ways in which we confront reality. Each one of us has rights, and each one of us has dignity. We are not only objects of rights, but we are subjects who have, who hold their human rights.
We also want to affirm today, to reclaim and to assert and to affirm and to recognise that women are leaders. Women are shaping families, and are shaping communities. And that is so important as we collectively have the power to change, and the power to inform, to influence and to be. And to recognise therefore the importance of the human rights based approach in a way that enables us to seek accountability from our governments and other actors who have the responsibility and the duty to deliver human rights. I therefore invite you. I invite you today to celebrate the World YWCA Day in a way that affirms our human rights and in a way that we can claim our collective power. The power to change. It is that power to change that we affirmed in our special fund the World YWCA Power to Change Fund, through which we have been able to support over 100 projects throughout the world in the last 4 years with gifts and programmes of almost 2 million dollars. It is through your generosity that we have been able to give such a possibility to resource the world in our movement through the Power to Change Fund.
I invite you therefore on this day, the World YWCA Day to take specific action. You can take action in your family and in your community on World YWCA Day. Just wake up and tell yourself "I am a woman, and I have the right." Wake up and tell yourself and reach out to your community. Go to your YWCA and say "We have the power, and the power to change." I invite each YWCA to take specific action on the World YWCA Day, this day to come together, to celebrate the work that you are doing, to talk about issues in your community, and to offer possibilities. On this day join the World YWCA movement in the collective action that we are all involved in. There are many ways in which we are celebrating this day through your talents, through your volunteering, as you continue to give your time, your talents, your treasures and your resources. Today, on World YWCA Day, honour some woman in your life, a special person in your life that has made a difference. You can honour that person by making a donation to your local YWCA Day. Make a special gift. Any gift. Any gift is a generous gift for somebody you care for, including for your local YWCA Day. You can also decide, and you can make a donation to the Power to Change fund of the World YWCA in honour of this day.
In conclusion, today is our World YWCA Day, as the World YWCA staff, your staff, as the World YWCA volunteers, all the volunteers in the world, all of the members of our movement and our board: we join you all in celebrating the World YWCA Day. I am a woman, I have the right. We are women, we have the power. Thank you.