Whether it be in the big city, rural towns, or your own local neighborhood, women are changing our communities and our world. Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, it is essential for us to shine a light on how YWCA is not only impacting women in the United States, but internationally.
World YWCA is a global movement that connects and mobilizes the power of millions of women and girls from across regions, cultures, and beliefs to transform their lives and the world for the better. Our collective work is grassroots-driven, grounded in local communities, and rooted in the transformational power of women, giving us a unique approach and legitimacy to affect change in support of gender equality. World YWCA provides support and opportunities for women and girls to become leaders and change-makers who not only protect their rights and impact their communities but inspire and mobilize their peers to do the same. To foster the leaders of tomorrow, World YWCA has been consistently uplifting the experiences of girls and empowering the voices of women across the globe.
One of those voices belongs to Lucy Masiye in Zambia, who, like other young women and girls, was often discouraged to push outside boundaries of motherhood and domestic life in her community. However, after joining the YWCA movement, Lucy was able to satiate her curiosity and develop a passion for the women’s rights movement. After a few years and armed with self-confidence, leadership skills, and the experience of working with a collaborative group of female leaders in her community, Lucy began working with child survivors of sexual abuse to seek justice and help them have a second chance in life, and she is now a board member of World YWCA.
Another empowered woman, Vera Syrokvash in Belarus, was a budding young feminist and studying sociology when she found YWCA. Introduced to YWCA Belarus by her professor, Vera instantly felt at home among other like-minded young women who would instantly become her comrades in the movement. Several years later, Vera has become an outspoken global activist for women and girls and has even represented the European YWCA in the European Youth Forum. Her advocacy for the rights of young women and girls has also led her to working with the United Nations Population Fund.
Satoko Yamaguchi from Japan was seeking a safe space where she could navigate her young adulthood and grow to become resilient and confident in herself when she found YWCA. In college, her interest in women-led movements led her to the Japan, where she was able to build a true sense of ownership, belonging, and a passion for social change movements. Armed with the tools, confidence, and bottom-up inclusive approaches learned from YWCA, Satoko was able to claim her power working within the YWCA movement to help nourish the next generation of feminist activists in Japan and serve alongside community organizers and activists within the Generation Equality Youth Task Force established by the UN.
On International Women’s Day, it is our pleasure to highlight and uplift the incredible stories of Lucy, Vera, and Satoko alongside the amazing work World YWCA and all our sister association are doing to advocate for women’s rights and gender equity across the globe. For over 160 years, YWCA has been an incubator for building women leaders like Lucy, Vera, and Satoko and empowering them to take action in their communities. World YWCA has always worked diligently to create a powerful cohort of leaders through innovative programming and initiatives rooted in value-based transformative principles of leadership and intergenerational understanding. This cohort of woman are taking the lead in decision-making spaces, organizations, communities, and homes by their activism, action, and accountability. Thanks to the work of YWCAs in communities across the world, women and girls are becoming more empowered than ever to speak up and pave the way for generations to come, and we could not be prouder to celebrate that work on International Women’s Day!
To learn more about the impact we are having on women across the globe as well as the powerful women leaders within the international YWCA movement, be sure to check out the World YWCA SheSpeaks blog for more stories.