Christmas At The Y

Christchurch YWCA Christmas Gifts Needed

Christmas at the YWCA

The YWCA Christchurch offer emergency and transitional accommodation for women and women with children. Christmas time can be a particularly busy time of the year for the Christchurch Y's emergency accommodation unit. 

To create a fun and festive Christmas for the guests, the Christchurch YWCA provide food and presents for the women and children staying with them. This year they need help from the community to donate gifts to an expected 16 Women and 16 Children of varying ages.

If you would like to help make Christmas feel like Christmas for the women and children staying at the Christchurch Y, you can send a gift (or two) to:

YWCA Christchurch
285 Hereford Street
Christchurch 8011

Hamilton YWCA & Women's Refuge Food Drive

YWCA Hamilton Food Drive

In preparation of Christmas, the YWCA of Hamilton are running a food drive to help support the Waikato Women’s Refuge over the holiday season. Non-perishables such as canned food (including meats, fish, soup, beans etc), dry pasta/ rice, cereal, muesli bars, peanut butter, juice boxes, and other Christmas treats, are all welcome. 

The Hamilton Y are open Monday-Friday until the 20th of December for donations, which can to be delivered or dropped off at:

YWCA Hamilton
28 Pembroke Street
Hamilton 3204

An Intergenerational Women's Movement

It takes many generations to change an attitude.


No need to kid ourselves. When it comes to 100% opportunity for young women, there is still a long way to go. It will take the energy, ideas and commitment of women of all ages and beliefs to make the change we want.

The YWCA began in London in 1855. Two determined women on a mission proposed a simple idea. Women would create opportunities for other women: they would stand beside the young to improve their opportunities and shape a better future.

The movement quickly took root around the world. You are reading this today because women in Dunedin, back in 1877, also thought ‘women + young women’ was a good idea! Now YWCA Aotearoa NZ is a national association of women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs. In 2017, the simple founding principle has never been more relevant and powerful.

Image credit: Womens March NZ

Image credit: Womens March NZ

During the international day of protest earlier this year, women walked together, demanding the right to a gender equal future. Cities in Aotearoa and around the world, rocked with the power of women and their determined voices. They were young and old, advantaged and not. They wore pussy hats and sun hats, hijabs and piercings. Many had started as teenagers back in the 1960s and would never have imagined that six decades later, they would still need to be marching. But here they were: this time walking beside their daughters and granddaughters and young colleagues.

From mini-skirts to walking frames, the mission and the determination is still the same. Women want the same thing for all women. Gender equality and all the fairness, opportunity and possibility that goes with it. It takes many generations to change an attitude.

Excerpt from our 2017 Annual Report.

Welcome our New YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand Board Members

We are so lucky here at the YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand to have a diverse range of talented and dynamic women on our national board. We are excited to welcome four new amazing women, each with their own unique and impressive background, to the National YWCA whānau. 



Niamh O'Flynn

Niamh has been involved in community leadership and organising in Aotearoa since 2009, with an active focus on campaigning, strategic development, and volunteer management.

She is passionate about climate change, women’s issues, and social justice, and in particular, where the three issues meet. Since 2015 she has been based in Auckland as the Executive Director of 350 Aotearoa.

"Working with a feminist organisation that empowers and enhances the lives of young women in Aotearoa has been something I've been excited to do for many years. I'm so delighted to join the wonderful women of board of the YWCA to get cracking!"




Te Aue Addison-Whare

Te Aue has held various roles working across the public sector, including in Treaty settlements, environment and local government policy and strategy.

She has been involved in various volunteer women’s collectives throughout university and her early working life and is keen to continue her contribution to advancing women’s rights and interests. She brings skills and experience that can help support and shape the vision for YWCA, particularly in strategic thinking and building creativity and fun into programme design and delivery.

While Te Aue is new to the NGO sector she has been seeking opportunities that foster collective thinking and passion to empower others and affect action in the community. She believes that the YWCA is a platform for change to advance the collective aspirations of women and gender equality.

Te Aue is excited to start her YWCA journey and will bring an enthusiastic rangatahi, wahine Māori and environmentalist perspective to the YWCA governance table.

"I'm really looking forward to starting my journey with the YWCA as the organisation is kaupapa-driven in efforts to empower women.  Bring on the opportunity to collaborative with other passionate women to advance our collective aspirations for Aotearoa"




Sophie Thoreau

Sophie is a lawyer with considerable experience in intellectual property and commercial law.  

She is a strong advocate for women reaching their potential and more.  She would like to use her skills to empower women and to assist the YWCA movement as a whole.  

As a mother of three young children including two young daughters, the future of New Zealand’s young people is important to Sophie and she is passionate about being a part of a movement that seeks to proactively support young women in a rapidly changing landscape.

“The YWCA is at a pivotal point of change and I look forward to being part of a movement that seeks to uplift our young people and has women’s independence and equality as a key focus.  The YWCA is a on journey of which I am thrilled to be a part.”




Rachel Southee

Our new Board Treasurer, Rachel Southee, has recently completed a long bout of university study at both Massey University and the University of Waikato, and now working as an accountant in Wellington. During this time she has worked in various industries including environmental engineering, research, and management consulting. Rachel also founded a new branch of a Wellington high-school tutoring company in Hamilton which is thriving to this day.

Since early this year, Rachel has been an active board member for the YWCA of Hamilton and involved in the Finance Sub-Committee.

Rachel believes that it is imperative that we all actively challenge gender perceptions and to also raise awareness in order to create a change in our communities. 

"My experience with the YWCA of Hamilton inspired me to get involved with YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand. I am excited to continue with such an organisation that empowers the young women of New Zealand to continue to push the boundaries of what women can do and succeed in, so that every young women can have equal opportunity to fulfill her potential."


Welcome aboard Niamh, Te Aue, Sophie and Rachel. We look forward to working with you all to make the YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand stronger together. 

November 2017 YWCA National Newsletter


The Equal Pay Awards 2017

The Auckland YWCA's fourth annual Equal Pay Awards went off without a hitch, and drew in the biggest crowd to date.

Beverage company Lion and the Human Resources Director of law firm Simpson Grierson, Jo Copeland, emerged as the 2017 Gold winners. 

The Silver winner was engineering company AECOM, and International tourism firm Magic Memories claimed the Bronze category award.

Read more.




YWCA Branded Cards and Reusable Coffee Cups

Do you want to support the YWCA movement to empower young women in Aotearoa New Zealand? Purchase YWCA greeting card sets and reusable coffee mugs! They make great gifts for Christmas. 

The design represents generations of strong women, layers of one's self, and stages of life.

Read more.


YWCA Aotearoa New Board Members

The YWCA Whānau are lucky to have four amazing new women join the YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand governance board.

Read more.






The Equal Pay Awards 2017

Minister Genter (MIDDLE) is pictured with auCKLAND YWCA CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MONICA BRIGGS (LEFT); and EY's Susan Doughty. 

Minister Genter (MIDDLE) is pictured with auCKLAND YWCA CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MONICA BRIGGS (LEFT); and EY's Susan Doughty. 

The Auckland YWCA's fourth annual Equal Pay Awards went off without a hitch, and drew in the biggest crowd to date.

Beverage company Lion and the Human Resources Director of law firm Simpson Grierson, Jo Copeland, emerged as the 2017 Gold winners. 

Auckland YWCA CEO and awards judge, Monica Briggs, said that the high calibre of entries in the Gold category made it impossible for the judges to pick just one winner. "We were very impressed with the level of internal communication, the desire to innovate and the visibility of Lion's CEO as an advocate for equal pay. Likewise, the personal commitment and drive shown by Jo Copeland at Simpson Grierson distinguishes her as a passionate campaigner for equal pay," 

The Silver winner was engineering company AECOM, who impressed the judges with their hiring policy of starting all new graduates on the same starting salary, and its strategic focus of encouraging more women into the industry.

International tourism firm Magic Memories claimed the Bronze category for their commitment to addressing equal pay in a short space of time.

Among the guest speakers on the night was the new Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter. “Employers honoured tonight are leading the way for all New Zealand employers who want to close the gender pay gap. We can all learn from their example and reap the benefits for people and business.”

See more at the NZ Equal Pay awards Facebook page. 

YWCA Coffee Mugs and Card Sets

Do you want to support the YWCA movement to empower young women in Aotearoa New Zealand? Purchase YWCA greeting card sets and reusable coffee mugs! They make great gifts for Christmas. 

The design represents generations of strong women, layers of one's self, and stages of life.

YWCA Greeting Cards

Set of six cards with envelopes.


October 2017 YWCA National Newsletter

Outward Bound Scholarship, Suffrage Day Success, & New Executive Officer 


YWCA Outward Bound Scholarship

An amazing opportunity for exceptional young women attend a life-changing 21-day course at greatly reduced cost. Applications open now until 31 Oct.


Kate Would Be Proud

We put out the call to vote on Suffrage Day to recognise 124 years of women voting, and people really responded! Thanks to all who participated.


New YWCA Executive Officer

Welcome, Liv Doogue! As our current Executive Officer Alanna Irving goes on parental leave, Liv brings a range of skills to our movement.


Spotlight: YWCA Hamilton

Since 2000, the Hamilton YWCA has offered valuable scholarships to women under 30. Manager Anne Bennett says, "To achieve change, we need women with influence and education." Read more.




Welcome to New YWCA Executive Officer

The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is excited to welcome Liv Doogue, as our current Executive Officer Alanna Irving goes on parental leave.


Liv brings a diverse range of skills from her experiences as a digital marketing manager, founder of an ethical fashion website, and general manager of a fair trade coffee business.

"While this will be my first experience working in the NGO sector, I have always had a strong sense of social justice and have been lucky to work for some amazing values-lead businesses in the past."

"I am passionate about women’s rights and gender equality, and particularly interested in economic independence as a tool for change and empowerment. I am so excited to be joining the YWCA to be a part of the wonderful work they are doing here in Aotearoa."

YWCA Co-President Susan Doughty explains why now is the perfect time for Liv to bring fresh energy and ideas.

"The YWCA Aotearoa is at a turning point of achieving some real change. We have Alanna to thank for getting us on track and setting us up for a great future. As Alanna embarks on her new adventure with baby in tow, we welcome the very capable Liv on board to continue the journey."

"Liv has a wealth of experience that will be of great value not only to our national movement, but all of our local member associations. I am excited by the steps we are taking, and believe that Liv will be a great support in helping us achieve our collective objectives." 

"Welcome aboard Liv, and thank you Alanna! You are both very special ladies."

Spotlight: YWCA Hamilton

Since 2000, the Hamilton YWCA has offered valuable scholarships to women under 30.

Words by Anne Bennett — Manager, YWCA Hamilton


We were the first YWCA in New Zealand to offer tertiary scholarships. It was back in 2000 – we were in a Board meeting and about to commit around $2000 to repairing some windows in the hostel. Suddenly, the fundraiser on our Board said, ‘We can always get funding for the windows. Let’s spend it on something new for young women instead.’

Outside my office is our Presidents’ photo wall. I love looking at the pictures of those young women scholarship recipients who have continued on to become YWCA of Hamilton Board Presidents. They come from very different backgrounds and family situations. I’m so proud of the lives they’re creating for themselves, and the way they inspire and support other young women around them. They’ve not only continued their studies, right up to doctorate level but many voluntarily stay on the board after their scholarship year ends.

Young women learn governance and leadership with us and that means they’re on their way to getting paid directorships earlier and accruing influence. They’re seizing opportunity earlier. We’re saying, ‘No need to wait until you’re 40. Start early, do more.’ To achieve change, we need women with influence and education. And we need to have someone leading the way. Then we can say, ‘Well, she can do it, so can I.’

Read more stories from YWCAs across New Zealand in our 2017 Annual Report.

#Suffrage2017 - Kate Would Be Proud!

YWCA put out the call to vote on Suffrage Day and recognise 124 years of women voting in NZ, and people around the country responded. Kate would be proud!


Good vibes at the marae 💚 #Suffrage2017 #earlyvote #ffs #HaurakiWaikato

A post shared by Jamie Mariu (@jamiemariu) on

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 5.21.25 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 5.23.02 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 5.26.55 PM.png

September 2017 YWCA National Newsletter

Vote tomorrow for #Suffrage2017, report released, and we're hiring!

Join the YWCA #SUFFRAGE2017 Campaign

What better way to recognise suffrage than voting?

Tomorrow, 19 September, join us in acknowledging 124 years of women's suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand by early voting. Share a selfie on social media tagged #Suffrage2017 to celebrate making our voices heard together around the country.


Released: HerStory in 2017 Report

What do young women in Aotearoa New Zealand today really care about? What challenges and opportunities do they face? What does leadership mean to them? We did research to find out. A report that listens to the voices of young women, to understand the needs of young women in Aotearoa New Zealand today.


Recruiting: Executive Officer

Our current EO, Alanna, is going on parental leave. We seek a passionate, skilled, and highly motivated individual to assist with our work nationally. Could it be you or someone you know? Applications close 29 Sept.





HerStory in 2017 Report: Voices of Young Women Today

A report that listens to the voices of young women, to understand the needs of young women in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

Prepared by researcher Rara Sekar Larasati
Visual design by Lisa Couldrey
Commissioned by YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand


Many things have happened since 1995 when the last Status of Women report was produced by YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand. We hope that the release of the HerStory in 2017 report may serve as a much-needed space for young women to voice their lived experiences in Aotearoa today.

We also hope that this report will help us, and many other organisations who work in the field of youth development and young women's leadership, to evaluate our work, have further discussions, and  ultimately better meet the needs of young women.

The HerStory 2017 report also responds to a gap in research in Aotearoa, which often generalises the voices of young women between the age of 15 and 30. We believe that young women in different age groups face different challenges and opportunities. This report presents some of these nuances in the experiences of young women.

Results from this survey provide valuable insights into the individual and collective challenges and opportunities facing young women in Aotearoa. Findings indicate differences based on age group in terms of knowledge of existing programmes available, the level of interest in the type of activities, understandings of what leadership really means to them, and economic, social, and cultural influences on leadership development.

Celebrate Suffrage Day — Vote on 19 September!

19 September 2017 marks 124 years since Aotearoa New Zealand became the first country in the world in which all women gained the right to vote in general elections.

What better way to recognise suffrage day than voting?


Suffrage isn't just something that happened in history. It's very relevant to us as citizens today! This year, New Zealand is holding a national election on 23 Septemberperfect timing to vote early on 19 September.

“Do not think your single vote does not matter much. The rain that refreshes the parched ground is made up of single drops.”

Kate Sheppard was New Zealand’s best-known suffragist. She was at the forefront of the campaign resulting in the signing of the suffrage petition and the passing of the Electoral Act on 19 September, 1893.

We believe women's voices should shape the future of our country. So make yours heard!

YWCA #SUFFRAGE2017 Campaign

Women Vote 100%

Celebrate Suffrage Day

Early Vote on 19 September


How do I early vote?

You can vote at any advance voting place. You can also enrol, check or update your details at the same time.

Voting place locations will be available on the Electoral Commission website from 30 Aug.

Spread the Word

Tell your friends! We'll be sharing the campaign on our Twitter and Facebook, so re-share and re-tweet. Hashtag #SUFFRAGE2017

On 19 Sept, take your friends with you to vote! We'd love to see your selfies, so please share them with us by social media or email

Grab one of these flyers to print out or share online. Or download all three.
Big thanks to Zeta from YWCA Hamilton for the designs!

Not sure who to vote for?

It's 100% your choice! But sometimes all the options can feel a bit overwhelming. Here are some cool tools to help you decide. 

On The Fence is a user-friendly quiz to help you find out which party you align with. It provides information about the parties and their values, explains what the Government does, and raises awareness of the election in general.

Policy draws on publicly available information about the key election policies of New Zealand’s political parties, puts them all in one place and presents them in a consistent and accessible way. 

Vote Compass is a tool developed by political scientists that calculates how your political views compare with the public policy positions of parties in New Zealand.

August 2017 YWCA National Newsletter

We're Seeking New Board Members!

The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is seeking new non-executive board members, including a treasurer, for the national board. If you have governance skills and a passion for empowering young women, we want to hear from you!


President's Message to Political Parties

We believe that public opinion and awareness of gender equality issues in New Zealand is at a pivotal tipping point. 


"There is More In You"

Jahvaya Wheki and Annie Oxborrow participated in Outward Bound through YWCA Hamilton's scholarship programme in April 2017, and had a life changing experience.


Spotlight: YWCA Christchurch

Christchurch YWCA provides emergency and transitional housing to women and children in a property owned by the Christchurch City Council. 

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 3.04.32 PM.png

Report: World YWCA board meeting

New General Secretary, new strategic priorities, and a new affiliation fee formula.



  • Weigh in on Research New Zealand's Gender Attitude Survey

Link removed because the survey is intended only for NCWNZ members.



President's Message to Political Parties

An open letter to our political parties ahead of the upcoming election.

I am writing on behalf of the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand movement, representing YWCA Associations around the country, to wish you well in the upcoming elections. As a movement that works alongside women to achieve ‘100% potential’, we are passionate advocates for further changes to improve women’s equality across Aotearoa New Zealand.

We believe that public opinion and awareness of gender equality issues in New Zealand is at a pivotal tipping point as a result of increased media coverage, legislative changes and global issues and trends. Any new government formed after the general election needs to provide strong leadership and demonstrate a fully inclusive approach to diversity to enable all citizens to contribute in a full and meaningful way to New Zealand society.

At the YWCA, we are driven to provide women the opportunity to realise a better future. This requires an inclusive working approach of partnering with individuals, communities, whānau and agencies to make an equal playing field a reality.

We want to see the following actions from a new government:

  • Parental leave extended to 26 paid weeks.

  • The Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill enacted in a way that enables women to be able to mount claims without an arduous and expensive process; the use of appropriate comparators based on skills and/or roles and from appropriate industries so discriminatory patterns are not perpetuated; and an independent body to have oversight, resources, and decision making abilities as to whether claims will proceed or not, and not extinguish existing legal rights for women.

  • More resources made available for developing innovative approaches to keeping women safe in both a physical and virtual sense.

  • De-criminalising abortion as we believe that every woman deserves choice.

The YWCA has provided vital guidance to the Ministry for Women over the past four years. We launched the Equal Pay Awards in 2014 to recognise companies that address the gender pay gap in their workplace and to encourage other businesses to start the process. I would be delighted to talk to you personally about this initiative and encourage you to get in touch if you would like more information or to attend the Equal Pay Awards presentation in Auckland on 9 November.

Ngā mihi / Kind regards

Susan Doughty
Co-president, YWCA of Aotearoa NZ
President, YWCA Auckland

"There is more in you" - Thank you, Outward Bound!

Jahvaya Wheki and Annie Oxborrow participated in Outward Bound through YWCA Hamilton's scholarship programme in April 2017, and had a life changing experience.

Throughout our time at Outward Bound we faced many challenges that helped us to learn and develop as people. We have both grown so much and are so grateful for this lifetime opportunity. We would just like to say thank you, and share what this has meant for us.

"There is more in you"

- Kurt Hanh

Jahvaya Wheki

I found Outward Bound both physically and mentally challenging. Through the tough times I found myself looking around reminding myself that I’m in the same boat as everyone else and I’m not the only one that is having a difficult, challenging time. We all are. I didn’t know what to expect, but always reminding yourself that you’re not alone is really comforting.

Because of this amazing life changing opportunity, I believe that I am more resilient, independent and thankful. Attending Outward Bound has made me appreciate the small things in life, such as dry clothes, warm food and sunshine, for this I am forever grateful.

Thank you so much YWCA for this extraordinary scholarship. The YWCA has changed my life in many ways because providing young women with the opportunity to face their fears, challenge themselves and further grow into great young leaders by attending this Outward Bound course. I hope that I can encourage many more young ladies to attend Outward Bound because it is very beneficial and life changing.

From the bottom of my heart thank you for this opportunity, I have not only made friends but I now have sisters by my side.

Annie Oxborrow

Thank you for enabling me to attend Outward Bound. It allowed me to experience the highs and lows of working with people all day, every day for 21 days. I maybe didn’t always get along with them, but needed to in order to get activities done. Activities such as tramping mentally challenged me, as not everyone is at the same ability so as a group we needed to decide a strategy to get us to our destination that was achievable by everyone. The idea of just getting “stuff done” played a lot on my mind, especially as procrastinating didn’t work at Outward Bound.

There were also many highs to the experience such as doing kayaking, walking the Queen Charlotte, proper rock climbing and more, which I had never done before. So I thank you for that. Lastly the friends I gained from Outward Bound are people that went through the highs and lows with me and learnt more about me in the short space of time we were together than the friends I have had for many years. Those ladies I will forever be great friends with. Thank you for opening up my eyes to what is truly important in life and what is a bit pointless to dwell on.

We're recruiting new board members!

The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is seeking new non-executive board members, including a treasurer.

About Us

The YWCA supports young women's leadership, safe spaces, sexuality & health, and economic independence. We're part of the largest women's movement in the world, in 120 countries, and have been active in Aotearoa New Zealand since 1878.

About the Board

Our national board oversees strategy and governance for the movement as a whole in Aotearoa New Zealand. The board meets about 8 times a year, mostly via video-conferencing but also in person, with occasional special events such as strategy workshops and the AGM. We cover travel and expenses for in-person meetings. Board members also participate in online discussions and committee activities between meetings.

Board Members

We seek board members with experience in non-profit governance, advocacy, legal, strategy, and fundraising, who have good skills in communication, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Our ideal applicant brings strong networks and a demonstrated commitment to our mission of empowering women, especially young women.


For the treasurer role, we seek applicants with skills in accounting, financial strategy, grants and fundraising, budgets, and compliance. The treasurer chairs the Finance Committee, which includes our accountant and Executive Officer.

Who We're Looking For

We actively seek to maintain board membership of at least 25% young women (under 30) and at least two Maori women, and especially welcome applications from these demographics. However, we are open to applications from all skilled women who can make a positive contribution to our strategic development.

Spotlight: YWCA Christchurch

Christchurch YWCA provides emergency and transitional housing to women and children in a property owned by the Christchurch City Council.

Words by Jean Barr — President YWCA Christchurch

There are so many ways that women can fall through the gaps and end up needing emergency housing. They might find themselves thrown out a er a marriage goes south; have a partner’s will contested; have a bad credit rating; or be coming out of prison.

In Christchurch, we are one of the only facilities where women and children can stay together as a family unit. We only offer emergency and transitional accommodation with the wrap around services because that is something no one else offers and where we see the greatest need.

Women in desperate situations have often suffered extreme gender disadvantage throughout their lives. Our goal is to give them the space, security, safety, and services to support them finding independence. Every woman, with or without children, needs a strong foundation before going out into the world.

Read more stories from YWCAs across New Zealand in our 2017 Annual Report.

July 2017 YWCA National Newsletter

Website Re-Launched!

Discover the amazing things YWCAs are up to across the country, the her-story of our movement, and much more at

Watch: Close the Gender Pay Gap

#JustAsk if women and men are paid the same at your workplace. Amazing TEDx talk by Jo Cribb.

Does your organisation care about pay equality? Sign the Equal Pay Compact and commit to it!

Young Voices at the Human Rights Council

World YWCA played an important role in bringing much-needed focus to the youth voice during the June session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Find out more....

Women's Suffrage Petition on Display

Come see it with your own eyes as part of the He Tohu exhibition at the National Library in Wellington.




Nurain & Simone’s Experience at CSW61

Our expectations upon arriving in New York for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) was that we would get to understand how policies and decisions are made at the high level. What we did not realise was the amount of incredible connections and friendships that we would make across the world.

Thought provoking and challenging questions came up time and time again over the two-day Youth Forum. “Why are men more listened to when they speak?” asked a young Arab woman delegate, “And why do we, as women, listen to them more?” 

It was inspiring to be in a room full of determined young feminists and activists, as well as a much larger group tweeting and posting online participating in conversations around the event. Our individual motivations and missions differed, but our vision for a more inclusive, sustainable, peaceful world was shared. This was particularly powerful for us being a part of the 130 strong delegation of young women from the World YWCA, including over 50 young women.

We heard stories from various speakers about their journey to becoming feminists, allies and overcoming adversity. These speakers covered a range of topics including young women as an economic force, intergenerational leadership, and how to include men and those that identify as men in the fight for equality, as well as break out sessions covering a range of topics. We were fortunate enough to attend sessions on using social media to help spread word of your cause, young womens’ mental health, self defence, and women in STEM.

An interesting observation for us was that despite the purpose of CSW61 being to highlight the need for lifting up women, and hearing the opinions and perspectives of girls, young women and women – there was little space made for attendees at CSW61. At the Youth Forum, a majority of the sessions were panelist or speaker sessions where the over 1000 young people were rarely given the opportunity to engage in discussion.

Recognising this shrinking space for women and NGOs at CSW61, particularly that for young women, the World YWCA launched a social media campaign #youngwomenrise. This was a campaign where young women are photographed sharing a high five with an influential leader. The campaign was raising awareness about SDG5 on gender equality & highlighting the importance of making space for young women.

The most powerful experience of being part of CSW61 was the opportunity to hear and share stories from other girls, young women and women from all over the world. Nurain was invited to be a speaker at the YWCA Taiwan parallel event on tackling misogyny and adverse norms in the workplace and in new media. She spoke alongside three other incredible young women – Raine (YWCA Canada), Kara Brown (CEO of YWCA Scotland), Edith Kemunto (YWCA Kenya), Nicole Thurner (Women’s Federation for World Peace Europe) and Lin Jingyi (a legislator & medical doctor from Taiwan). 

Nurain spoke about being a young woman of colour in New Zealand, the challenge of unconscious bias and the prevalence of misogyny in new media. The idea of combatting #microaggressions was talked about by Kara, and how to fight this with small acts of #microfeminism (check out these hashtags on Twitter!). We were united because of our shared challenges in achieving gender equality across developed and developing nations.

We are privileged to have experienced the workings of international lobbying, and hope to bring back what we have learnt to grassroots movements working for gender equality at home in New Zealand. We hope to connect the work being done in our communities to reclaim the shrinking spaces for us internationally.