The World YWCA’s leadership work and approach are feminist and progressive; community-based and intergenerational; focused on the most marginalised and under-represented; and accountable to be responsive to the needs and priorities of women, young women and girls in all their diversities. While leadership work in YWCA is as old as the YWCA itself, the Rise Up! Young Women’s Leadership Program was created in 2010 by young women from the Asia-Pacific region for young women with the intention to contribute to their empowerment, so that they rise up and discover their leadership potential. When we say “transformative leadership,” we mean leadership that brings together knowledge, skills, and feminist values, all of which are aligned towards the larger good of communities.
This Guide builds upon the existing knowledge, creativity, and capacity of YWCA young women to become leaders for positive social, economic and environmental change. It celebrates the processes by which young women explore their strengths, educate themselves, identify as decision makers, and have the confidence, knowledge, information, skills, and support to understand and manage power imbalances, challenge injustices, hold powerful people to account and make positive changes in their lives. It also embraces the core values of Rise Up! to strengthen its participatory peer-to-peer approach to training and mentoring. It acknowledges that young women’s leadership actively aims to disrupt patriarchal structures and helps in building a powerful, supportive network of young women leaders of present and future by decolonising leadership.
Through this Guide, we hope to build a beautiful activist tapestry together, starting with the different threads that come together to make unique fabrics (that’s you!) and weaving in all of the key elements of transformative and feminist leadership. We seek to build out from individual to movement, just as each individual thread matters to the cloth.