By Aasha Ramesh, YWCA- Bangalore, India.
My journey with World YWCA’s initiative on ‘Mobilising Young Women‘s Leadership and Advocacy in Asia and Pacific’,dates back to 2012 when I was invited as Mentor for the YWCA of India to a training on, ‘Mobilising Young Women’ Leadership and Advocacy in Asia’. I had the opportunity and the privilege to move with and through this process, in its course, as it developed and evolved based on the insights and experiences of young women. So far three intense trainings have been held for the young women, the most recent being, on, ‘Mobilising Young Women’s Leadership and Advocacy in Asia and Pacific phase II—Her Future: Intergenerational approaches to Bold and Transformative Leadership.’
At the outset, I must congratulate the World YWCA for developing such a useful and unique intervention. It is not just relevant but perhaps most needed and appropriate at a time when more than half the world comprises of young people. Asia has over 60% and the Pacific is also a region leading in young population. This brings with it insurmountable challenges that young women in particular face politically, economically, socially and culturally, especially in relation to Violence Against Women.
The highlight of this effort is that several young women indentified as young women leaders are showing their potential in a varied ways. This is happening back home within their constituency, which the young women leaders have developed. It is also visible in the way these young women who at the initial training in Kathmandu were shy, hesitant, uninformed, but had the spirit and fire latent within them. With passage over last three years, through opportunities for exposure to capacity building trainings, international conferences on reproductive health, feminist perspectives on women’s rights etc, has made an immense impact on transforming these young women leaders into strong advocates and champions for women’s rights.
Today, these young women leaders from different countries, especially in Asia have demonstrated how they have blossomed from being closed buds into bright and vibrant flowers. They have exhibited confidence, organising skills, advocacy capabilities, knowledge and articulate on issues affecting women in their respective countries. The young women now co-lead intergenerational workshops, develop advocacy strategies, prepare shared leadership statements share and take responsibilities. The icing on the cake is that these young strong women can lead the movement and bring with them many more young women to strengthen and sustain the future movement. Other critical issues that this process has brought to the fore are shared leadership, strengthening intergenerational dialogue and partnership promoted through the mentorship programme.
The programme underlines the foundation of building a strong movement which acknowledges the experience and knowledge of senior women coupled with space for fresh ideas from the young women leaders on issues affecting young women. As a mentor, some of us have demonstrated this. It is critical for many of us who are senior, holding positions of importance within and outside of the YWCA, who need to step aside and provide a foot in for the emerging young women leaders.
Unless we lead by example this will not be possible and the need of the hour is to have a combined leadership across the generations to keep the spirit of the movement going and gain momentum to address the challenges ahead. It is imperative, that together we lead and amplify concerns, strategize to advocate for a better tomorrow. We are together, Champions of Young Women Leaders and advocates for Women’s Rights. Therefore, it is critical to strengthen INTERGENERATIONAL BONDING, as a SUPPORT and GUIDE giving space for decision making for the YOUNG WOMEN to be the BEACONS of LIGHT that they are. This journey is ongoing………….
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