Creating Spaces for Young Women’s Leadership Development

Jenna Lodge Foster, was World YWCA Short-Term Advocacy Intern. She was also part of the core planning committee for the North American and Caribbean Young Women’s Leadership Conference that took place in Barbados. She shares her views on how the conference came together and role young women play through their YWCAs
The North American and Caribbean Young Women’s Leadership Conference, held in Barbados, June 20-22nd, created a unique and empowering environment for young women leaders from North America and the Caribbean region.  Almost 100 young women came together to learn more about the YWCA movement, leadership development, Violence Against Women, SRHR, HIV/AIDS, and other programmatic, professional and personal topics that we could each relate to. 
Throughout our time at the conference, I heard several comments from young women in regards to the opportunity to expand their own leadership within the context of their role within their respective YWCA association.  In my experience, we all have the opportunity to “lead” in any capacity we serve in. We have the opportunity to serve as leaders and mentors for other young women and provide them with support and resources to help them on their leadership journey. jennaOne highlight of the conference was the opportunity to connect with “seasoned” YWCA leaders.  These women serve at their local associations in various capacities and can provide a wealth of knowledge to young women looking to learn more about the movement and become engaged at various levels. 
I was personally deeply inspired by these women because just their presence at the conference spoke volumes about their commitment to cultivate young women leaders.  These women understand the need to empower young women to “own their space” and offered support, guidance, clarity, and positive encouragement while at the conference. 
These seasoned, strong, and influential leaders are the type of women that we as young women can look back and say, “she helped me become the person I am today.” Every woman in this movement, regardless of age, should have this same mentality.  I speak for the many young women that were influenced by these women when I say, “Thank you all!”This conference served as a great platform for the World Movement to engage young women. Significant knowledge, awareness, and progress on the post-2015 agenda was gained via this amazing conference.  Young women are looking for to joining together again in 2015 to learn from each other, engage in the movement, and grow as young women leaders!

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