What does intergenerational leadership mean to young women? A voice of the Young Women’s Forum

By Yvonne Schüpbach – YWCA YMCA Switzerland

By now we are all familiar with the certain discussion about intergenerational leadership within the YWCA. Often there are just the elderly women who are asked what they think about it. But that changed at this Young Women’s Forum. I was asked, to speak about what I, as a young woman who is 20 years old, think about this issue.


I have joined the YMCA/YWCA Switzerland when I was very young. I think I was 7 years old. I remember my first scout afternoon program; I was very impressed by the different amazing leaders. They seemed to be self-confident and sure about how the world functions. My leaders seemed to be sure of what the right way is. But then I grew up and I became a leader as well, when I was 13 years old. During this time I discovered that it was not like I thought it would be. Leaders don’t know everything. They are not always sure how the world functions and if they are doing the right thing in the right way.

At this time intergenerational leadership and the older leaders became more important to me. Firstly, they had to give me space and the possibility to participate and be included in decisions. In addition the older leaders of my association became my advisers. They are sharing their experience and expertise with me. They are so important in my leadership development. But it is no one way road. It is a bilateral relationship because sometimes they do not understand the youth and the world we’re living in and then they ask me to share certain things.

Due to this my conclusion is: intergenerational is about share knowledge and space, listen to each other and care about one other. It is beyond dominating. It is beyond being bossy. It is beyond being exclusive. It is about sharing, listening and caring.

So my call to action is: Let the young women participate and be active together with the older. Let us work together as equal partners. And let us use our intergenerational knowledge to be bold and transformative.


Delia González Medel, YWCA Chile

Ayer, martes 13 de octubre 2015 durante el Consejo Mundial de la YWCA que se realiza en Bangkok, tuve la alegrĂ­a de participar en el Taller acerca de las Relaciones Intergeneracionales al interior de nuestras YWCA.

Aunque no fue preparado intencionalmente asĂ­,  justamente nuestra mesa de expositoras estuvo compuesta por 3 mujeres de distintas generaciones. Asimismo, las participantes del Taller pertenecĂ­an a distintos grupos etarios, lo que permitiĂł conocer y compartir preciosas experiencias y preguntas respecto a este gran desafĂ­o de la comunicaciĂłn y colaboraciĂłn intergeneracional,  tarea que – estando ya en movimiento- se nos hace ineludible.IMG_2823

Las distintas maneras en que las YWCA de Canadá, Aotearoa/Nueva Zelanda y Chile han enfrentado este tema, nos confirma que cada realidad nos convoca a conocer en profundidad a las personas y grupos con quienes trabajamos, en su diversidad y particularidad, acercarnos a las culturas de las que participan y a su situación de vida en el presente, con sus necesidades, creencias  e intereses.

A pesar de los distintos contextos y experiencias compartidas, entre ellas emergieron elementos comunes que no podemos soslayar.

Si bien, tal como fue expresado por mi parte en el Taller, no existen recetas acotadas para producir un encuentro y mejor comunicación entre las generaciones, ya que las relaciones humanas son un entramado complejo de expectativas y de visiones de mundo que se encuentran, sí pudimos apreciar que las tres exposiciones refirieron –como condición básica-  al reconocimiento mutuo en distintas dimensiones, a saber: el valor de la historia de vida individual y colectiva de cada mujer, el ser capaces de recuperar la sabiduría de todas y cada una, acercarnos con respeto y confianza en las capacidades y habilidades de las otras, comprender que el  producto de ello va a ser el enriquecimiento mutuo, y,  para todo  lo anterior, por sobretodo necesitamos tener la decidida y clara convicción y disposición a realizar ese reconocimiento. Es una opción y es una buena nueva.

Tal como lo señalara Marcela Lagarde, la sororidad  como forma de construir nuestras relaciones entre mujeres, implica valorarnos y reconocernos en la diferencia y el enriquecimiento mutuo.

Inspirational World Council Young Women’s Forum

Orliginal source of the blog post: http://worldcouncil.waarbenjij.nu/reisverslag/4873320/lots-of-inspiration-at-the-young-women-s-forum

Friday was an exciting day: it was the first day of the World Council Young Women’s Forum. This Forum takes place before the actual World Council and is meant for young women to meet each other, to network. Wieske and I were present as young women of  YWCA Netherlands. It was a full, but very inspiring day and I would love to share some highlights to give you an impression. 12079225_10153147501087011_7058181459065768060_n

The day started with celebrating faith and diversity. We sang some songs and we reflected on a story from the Bible about the bleeding woman. This woman suffered a lot, but she believed that touching Jesus’ clothes would heal her and she had the courage to get to him through the crowd. This story was connected to the courageous stories we live and we were asked to write our stories of courage down. All these stories together make for a very powerful group of women! After this celebration we introduced each other by guessing which countries were present. It was really amazing to see so many young women represent their countries!

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

An important part of the morning programme consisted of a panel with representation from organizations such as UN Women and UNESCO. They introduced the SDGs: the Sustainable Development Goals, which are targets related to international development. They are the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and they will last for 15 years, until 2030. There are 17 goals, ranging from topics like poverty to inequality and the environment. Goal 5 is gender equality, and more specifically: “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. This differs from the wording in the previous MDGs, which said “promote” instead of “achieve” gender equality. Therefore, this goal is more ambitious than the previous one. Within this goal there are different targets on topics such as: female genital mutilation (FGM), ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, unpaid care and domestic work and female leadership. They will be implemented with different means and measured by using various indicators. You can find more information on the SDGs on: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics .

The SDGs are important, because they will be instrumental when it comes to governments deciding what to focus on in their policies. Of course, it’s still up to governments what they choose to focus on but the SDGs are very important in this process. Having a specific goal for gender equality is very important and has been brought about by the work of many activists, feminists and organizations.

After this panel it got really interesting, because the different YWCA regions (North America, Latin America and Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Pacific) spoke about the issues they’re facing when it comes to gender inequality. It was very interesting to learn more about the various issues and to notice some similarities between regions. For example, domestic violence is a problem every region has to deal with. Stereotyping is also something that happens throughout the world, even though the stereotypes may differ. It was also good to hear about the issues of fellow European countries and there we also experienced a lot of similarities. After this, the SDGs were connected to “Envisioning 2035”, a YWCA process aimed at envisioning what we want the world to look like in 2035. It’s a bigger plan where YWCAs will work towards to. The goal that was determined for Envisioning 2035 is: “By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all women.” During the next few days at the World Council, we will talk and discuss about this vision and elaborate on it.

Cultural evening

The day ended with a cultural evening, which was amazing! Lots of ladies, especially the Asian and African women, wore their national dress and they looked fantastic! Different countries teached us lovely new songs and dances and there was a really nice atmosphere.

All in all it was an awesome first day. We, the young women of the YWCA Netherlands, are looking forward to an exciting second day at the Young Women’s Forum. 12096637_876238722466910_6091672082935993487_n

During the Council we will also use social media to report on what happens here. You can follow us on Twitter on: http://www.twitter.com/ywcanederland and you can follow us on Facebook via http://www.facebook.com/ywcanederland  .

YWCA of Romania – Youth Speaker in New York at UNGA 70

By Ruxandra Diaconescu

Monday 21st of September I was at work when, during my lunch break I received a message with the surprising question: “Do you want to attend a meeting on gender issues in the US” – nothing more. I said YES and the adventure started.12027635_10153106270131905_1397244151776469704_n

I was told I have to address a speech to the “Global Leader’s Meeting on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment” on the 27th of September at the UN in New York, as a Youth Leader. That is amazing! After I got my VISA, changed a flight, flied to Paris, then New York; after more than 10 hours on different planes, there I was – New York! I had some dinner and a lovely chat with YWCA and Christian Aid representatives, because you are never too tired to speak about important issues of today’s society, right?

After I got some rest, the next day I was finally able to start working on my speech for the big event. Inspiration was one thing I did not lack for sure, surrounded by so many amazing and inspiring women. It is nice to read about it in the newspapers, it is healthy to base your beliefs on statistics, but nothing compares to drawing conclusions when you hear one woman’s honest, profound personal story – thank you Girl Declaration for the inspiring VIP Mentoring Session I could take part in!

27th of September – the day of the meeting, the day of my speech, the day that changed my life. Some 80 world leaders convened at the United Nations to personally commit to ending discrimination against women by 2030 and announcing concrete and measurable actions to kick-start rapid change in their countries. The event marks a historic first, with pledges delivered by Heads of State and Government. The People’s Republic of China, host of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, and UN Women are co-hosting the “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action.”

My speech focused mostly on the different chances girls, young women and women of the world have in life, regardless of their abilities, goals or dreams. If I could be there, speaking up my mind as a young leader, it was by right, not by chances – so I asked for commitment to giving girls, young women and women their right to dreaming and achieving their dreams through better educational and health systems, better employment, end of child marriage, transparency, end of corruption!

I was extremely proud that, after my speech, the president of Romania who was in the room stood up to congratulate me and show his support. That was not just Klaus Iohannis standing up for Ruxandra Diaconescu – this is the symbol of a head of state who shows support (also publicly in his statement) to the civil society with focus on youth.

The event was both a personal and a global success in my opinion!

If this was a journey of “not leaving anyone behind” I think we’re all on board,
Ready for departure – sky’s the limit!

Read Ruxandra Diaconescu’s full speech here: http://ow.ly/SKR1G
You can find your governments commitments towards gender equality here: http://unwomen.org/stepitup