As the World YWCA continues its journey to Goal 2035 of “100 million young women and girls transforming power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence”, we look to key levers for young women to harness their capacity for leadership and advocacy. One such mechanism centered on the leadership of young women is the product of a long-standing initiative named “Mobilising Young Women’s Leadership and Advocacy in Asia and Pacific” and known as the World YWCA “Rise Up!” model.

Through over a decade of work with specific contributions from YWCAs in India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji (in earlier phases of the initiative), Rise Up! has grown to be a unique combination of formal trainings, tools and participatory approaches that enable young women to build confidence, gain knowledge, connect with one another and mobilise their peers and stakeholders to address issues that affect their rights and future, working for more justice and sustainability in their communities and beyond.

Since 2011, the World YWCA has been supported by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in developing, implementing and growing Rise Up!. Without the long-standing commitment of an institutional partner that puts gender equality front and center and understands the need to work with young women as knowledgeable partners in leading change, we would not have reached such depth and longevity, allowing for cohorts of diverse young women leaders to come together sustainably as a peer group of advocates alongside the development of supporting tools (i.e. the Rise Up! Guide for Young Women’s Transformative Leadership) and of an expanded knowledge base.

Indeed, between 2016 and 2018, an external partner, Monash University conducted a study of Rise Up! and surfaced key findings and recommendations that inform the broad thinking to develop Rise Up! further and explore future by-products that would benefit even more young women leaders across the world.

Following the study and last phase of implementation, the monitoring, evaluation and learning framework that constitutes a backbone to continuously refine Rise Up! was updated using feminist, participatory principles in collaboration with the young women from Rise Up! as knowledge holders and leaders for all steps of the redesign.

In 2020, World YWCA continue to invest in sharing and using Rise Up! not only as a programme for young women’s leadership in Asia-Pacific but also as a model to guide other initiatives, from mobilising young women as leaders and advocates in other regions and networks to providing contemporary tools to support intergenerational work and the evolution of the World YWCA safe space model.

If you are interested in discussing and/or supporting our leadership work, kindly email Pauline.Westerbarkey@worldywca.org