On 20 May, the World YWCA launched the first of a series of virtual panels dedicated to provide space for young women to share their opinions, realities and experiences titled #YoungWomenLeaders. This first online panel on COVID-19: Feminist Response in Communities, included the participation of four young women leaders from the YWCA movement working at the forefront to respond to the current global pandemic in their countries.
Online panels have gained popularity in the past few weeks, especially where physical distancing is a norm. However, a number of panels on COVID-19 and its impact in countries are led by men. Even if women are included, young women, who carry a wealth of experience from the forefront are rarely seen sharing their opinions and expertise.
As a global movement that engages with and mobilises women, young women, and girls, the World YWCA is committed to progressive, community-based leadership, particularly through programming that is led by and for young women. Young women have particularly harnessed technology systems to share their opinions, stories and insights from ground.
Bobbie Trower (YWCA Australia), Dhiya Ann Mathew (YWCA India), Lidya Alamrew (YWCA Ethiopia) and Aleksandra Sokolova (YWCA Belarus) joined Suchi Gaur (World YWCA) on the first panel to highlight the impact that COVID-19 is having in their communities and shared their opinions about the ongoing initiatives and collective efforts to tackle existing and new issues arising with the crisis, that are affecting and isolating women, young women and girls.
Women’s and young women’s leadership is critical in driving inclusive decision-making and activities for COVID-19 response and recovery, addressing women and girls’ particular needs during the crisis and engaging peers in safe spaces to share accurate information. The panel highlighted the need to consider inclusion, youth engagement, continuous advocacy and supporting vulnerable groups through social media engagement to ensure the gendered impact is reduced. COVID-19 disproportionately affects women and girls, and their leadership is central to effective response and recovery efforts.
Stay tuned and follow World YWCA social media platforms and communication channels to learn more about upcoming #YoungWomenLeaders panels and help us spread the word.