Around the world, YWCA structures work towards one common Goal 2035, and amplify young women’s voices in the broader women’s rights movements. This glossary establishes a common language for YWCA leaders, activists, and broader women’s movements to come together, and it ensures that we can name – and work towards – a global vision.

Many leaders and activists in the broader women’s movement agree that words that once imparted visions of social change have become devoid of their original meaning. This glossary tries to account for the most commonly used words – whether they are “technical terms”, “operational words” or “specialized jargons”. It tries to provide definitions that can be easily understood by everyone, whether they are members of the movement, aspiring members, allies, partners or stakeholders who work with us.

Where did the idea for a glossary come from?

In 2015, the bold and transformative “Goal 2035” document was developed by the YWCA movement. It states: “By 2035, 100 million young women and girls will transform power structures to create justice, gender equality, and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all women”.

This goal and analyses of the movement highlight the importance of developing and popularising tools for movement building, including the promotion of a glossary of terms that is fit for use within the movement and with external stakeholders. The glossary will help in not just developing a common understanding of the terms we use but also help work together towards Goal 2035. The glossary has been developed through a consultative process with participation of leaders across the YWCA movement.


It is extremely difficult to capture the full range and diversity of women’s voices and insights across decades of movement work. As such, this document is not – and will never be – complete or representative. Rather, it is an attempt towards understanding and popularising how women in the movement have used different terms over different decades. In this spirit, we invite young women and women leaders to contribute to the continued edition of this document. Your additions and corrections, agreements or disagreements, ideas and inputs are what will turn this glossary into a key resource for the YWCA movement and broader women’s movements.

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