On August 12th, 2019, the YWCA movement lost one of its brightest shining stars, Juli Dugdale. YWCA leader and bright light to many, passed away in Geneva, with her partner Colin by her side. Juli was a force of good within our movement and transformed the lives of hundreds of women, and especially young women, around the world.
Young women and women in the YWCA movement and beyond have given Juli many names over the years – mentor, guide, friend, listener, deep thinker, practitioner, believer, advisor, wonderful peer, and follower as well as leader. Juli demonstrated to the YWCA all core values of the feminist movement. She practiced intergenerational leadership in its most natural way, fluidly moving between multiple roles as she communicated and worked with women of all ages, in all their diversity.
Juli understood ideas and initiatives from local to national to global perspectives, and made sure that there was meaningful participation by all, from all perspectives. She understood the transformative effect when young women recognised their human rights, the effect it had not only on individual lives, but on the collective good of the YWCA. Juli ‘walked the talk’ to make sure that young women had access to platforms and processes to help make gender equality possible.
As Juli travelled the globe she planted and nurtured so many leaders – shared her radiance – and we now each carry her legacy in our own special way.
The World YWCA office is in a phase of mourning. We have lost a mentor, a guide, and a support system. As we grieve, we are reminded of Juli’s words on how we must work toward making gender equality a reality, through young women’s leadership and sisterhood that helps women, young women and girls, all around the world.
As we mourn, we also celebrate Juli. We share stories about her and have laughed until we cried. We are thankful to hear and read the messages and stories being shared about Juli and her love and dedication for the YWCA movement. Her professionalism, personality, and stories of change remain a guiding light for all of us.
Her careful listening, empathetic gestures, understanding of sorrows and challenges, joyful smile and big heart, which has space for so many, will be missed by all of us.
The World YWCA will honor Juli in the coming months, including at World Council in South Africa. Until those moments, let us all work to follow her lead, in her memory and to keep her bright light burning.
In lieu of flowers, Juli`s family and friends plan to establish something in Juli`s honor at the YWCA to support young women. Details on the same will come soon.
World YWCA, World Office