Dear Sisters from YWCA’s all around the world

Dear Deborah and Casey

Dear Staff and Volunteers,




I am honored to stand here today as the newly elected President of the World YWCA for the next quadrennium, and I say thank you, thank you so much for each and everyone for the confidence you have granted me. It is such a privilege and honor for me to be offered this opportunity to serve on the New Board with 19 other board members, 60 % of whom are under 30 years of age. We have proven again and again that we are this unique intergenerational women organization that walks its talk: this is truly empowering for all of us. I still remember when I was quite young, how inspired I was by leaders and past Presidents like Lady Nita Barrow from Barbados, Anita Anderson from Sweden, and later by Razia Ismail from India and then Susan Brennan from Australia. These women, alongside my mother have been my source of inspiration.

When I came to this council, I was eager to learn, share, enjoy, exchange, as I always do. This is the 8thworld council meeting I attend. But as soon as I was elected, I started seeing and hearing things differently:  I was walking around and talking to people and hearing them attentively and deeply.  What did I hear: I heard your love for the movement and pride, your commitment and expectations, your dreams and aspirations. It is going to be a challenge to live up to all this, so I realize the big responsibility on my shoulders. I also heard concerns, fear, insecurity, and suspicions: so I realized even more that I and the Board have a big task ahead of us.  You will have my commitment that we will continue do what is best for the movement so we stay relevant and empowering to our young women and responsive to the communities that need us most: let us not forget that we are here to improve the lives of these most vulnerable women that face atrocities, displacements, violence, poverty  and death every day, we have the ethical responsibility to keep their hopes alive

Let us also not forget the big challenge ahead of all of us:  the financial situation we are facing which, if unresolved will continue to threaten our sustainability. This will and should get our utmost attention right from the very beginning of our term as a Board. I genuinely believe though that this is not our responsibility alone as a Board, this is our collective responsibility as a movement: I realize that coming up with a robust but realistic financial recovery plan that will put us back on track and at the forefront of donors should be our priority.  I and the Board cannot do it alone, you need to stand behind us, and I need your promise and commitment that you will.

To my board I say: you have my commitment that I will work with you in a very participatory and transparent way, so we can build on the outstanding history and legacy of this movement. We have to continue to remember that we have been elected by this movement, and we are accountable for them, and we need to uphold ultimate standards of accountability and transparency, and we can do it through open communication, dialogue, reflection and continued self-assessments. I would commit to a participatory and inter-generational leadership and culture, which will help move us forward. I recognize this as a core role, value and responsibility of mine as the President.  I hope that I will succeed in facilitating an inter-generational leadership development process which will help us deliver our mission with dignity and integrity, and with best standards of good management and accountability .

I cannot but thank and recognize the leadership of Deborah Thomas, the President that has led this organization for the past 8 years. I will depend on you Deborah, and hope you will accept to be my close and sincere advisor.

For you Casey and the world office staff, you will have my and the Board’s utmost support. Thank you Casey for your commitment and hard work which kept the office running in very difficult times. Be assured we are here to support you and your staff, engage with you and acknowledge you and your staff. I have seen how hard you have been working to make it possible for all of us to be here and have this meaningful and invaluable gathering.

Thank you again, together let us make this world a better place, a world that promotes justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Mira Rizeq

President, World YWCA