world-ywca-council-bold-and-transformative-leadership_mediumThe 28th World YWCA Council under the theme ‘Bold and Transformative Leadership’ opened on Sunday 11th October at the Centara Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand; it is the largest gathering of YWCA members from all around the world. It is a time for membership engagement, decision-making, reflections and most importantly networking and having fun.

The opening ceremony was filled with beautiful colours, music and song, starting with the opening parade whereby delegates wore their national dress and danced into the conference hall. The delegates were led by magnificent, stunning Thai dancers and musicians whom performed traditional dance.

Indeed, the host association YWCA of Thailand has pulled out all the stops, working around the clock to ensure that volunteers are at hand, delegates arrived safely and most impressively organized a formal dinner for all delegates with Her Highness Princess Saomsavali of Thailand.

Over 500 delegates from some 70 countries and YWCA partners such as Christian Aid, World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts, ICCO and United Methodist Women have gathered at the Centara Hotel to engage in strategic conversations about the future of the YWCA movement. The World YWCA and YWCA movement has been undergoing an ‘ Envisioning 2035’ process, asking questions around sustainability, membership and identity, women’s human rights and young women’s leadership. During the Council, the World YWCA Board has already presented the following Envisioning Goal for adoption:

By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all women.

Historically, Women’s Human Rights is a pillar of the YWCA movement and 2015 is no different. In the proposed strategic framework ‘Realising Human Rights’ is objective 2 and underlies the work of the World YWCA. In this regard, at World Council 2011, the World YWCA established the Mary Robinson Award for Young Women’s Leadership in Human Rights to recognise young women leaders and human rights activists. One the first day of council during the welcome reception, the YWCA movement honoured  and celebrated the recipients of the Mary Robinson award: The YWCA of Honduras and Cz Ralte, a young woman human rights advocate on HIV and AIDS from the YWCA of India.

The Council also welcomed the outstanding Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition leader in Myanmar and the forceful advocate Mary Robinson – former President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Current UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, whom both prepared video messages.

Over the next couple of days, Council delegates will elect the members of the World YWCA Board, set priorities for the coming years work and determine policies through resolutions. Through workshops lead by member associations, Council continues to provide practical training and education on the priority issues of the global movement.

As shared passionately by Loretta Minghella, CEO of Christian Aid in her opening remarks to the Council, “You are beautiful, you are unique. This is your calling, this is your responsibility. Envision, take courage and rise!”

For more information go to the World Council website: http://www.worldywcacouncil.org/