Inspirational World Council Young Women’s Forum

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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: .

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: and you can follow us on Facebook via  .

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