20 January, 2017

We have room for the whole world

Albania, Angola, American Samoa, Armenia, Antigua, Aotearoan, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada…

A huge long list of names of the countries in alphabetical order, but do you know what they have in common?

In the YWCA we are not telling in vain of being a global movement working for women’s empowerment, leadership and rights in more than 120 countries and five continents. The YWCA was founded in the United Kingdom in 1855 by Lady Mary Jane Kinnaird and Emma Robarts. The movement spread quickly across the world and since has been at the forefront to advance women’s rights in areas such as the European refugee crisis after World War II, the civil rights struggle in the USA and apartheid in South Africa. YWCA Finland was founded 120 years ago, being the first women’s own Christian organisation reaching all over the country.

YWCA’s activities from the beginning have been extensive in seeking to respond to current challenges. Women’s and girls’ empowerment is the YWCA’s a way to change the world.

“The YWCA is a local, national and international non-profit movement with the aim to act for the best of girls and women everywhere. It is a flexible, creative and down to earth movement which provide space for participating in a variety of hands and hearts, as well as advocacy and service projects”, says Pirjo-Liisa Penttinen, a long-time General Secretary of YWCA Finland.

“In Africa, the YWCA is impressively community-based. I do not have a sponsored cow, which for example the YWCA Uganda has conveyed thus collecting funds for the activities. Similarly, the YWCA Namibia plant trees. In Argentina, the YWCA operated the classic Lunch Club, where over two hundred people attended. The proceeds of the meals were given to children’s day care centres. In Nepal thanks to paper jewellery crafts dozens of women have a job, and the YWCA Albania has contributed to the country by spreading awareness of breast cancer. Women’s inventiveness and sharing from their least speaks to me always,” says Pirjo-Liisa Penttinen.

“The current theme of this worldwide movement speaks of brave and innovative leadership to bring to the centre women’s and girls’ empowerment, respect for human rights of all, the Christian value base, the joint leadership between the generations, and voluntary work. By this we support one step at a time the principles of sustainable development.”

So, next time you travel abroad, keep your eyes open and observe your surroundings. Is there a local YWCA? In some countries, the name turns into their own language, for example, we have the NNKY in Finnish, KFUK in Swedish, LJKS in Lithuanian, UCDG in Italian, ACF in Argentina and NMBS in Nepal. One third of the European YWCAs works in partnership with the YMCA.

One of the characteristic forms of YWCA activity has been the creation of safe spaces for women and disadvantaged groups. In addition to supporting housing activity, hostel rooms and hotel operations are familiar for the YWCA. Maybe you would spend overnight at the YWCA’s property on your travel?

In the YWCA sisterhood extends around the entire world. Welcome aboard!

A list of activities of the YWCA based accommodation establishments can be found behind this link: http://www.worldywca.org/ywca-hostels-list/
Map of YWCA member countries belonging to the World YWCA can be found here: http://www.worldywca.org/about-us-2/#findywca
Contact details: http://www.worldywca.org/ywca-member-associations-list/