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.