Last month Dellwyn Stuart became the new CEO of YWCA Auckland, bringing with her an impressive background and a genuine passion for equality and women’s issues.
Dellwyn has over three decades of experience in influencing, community engagement and leadership in both the public and private sector. Prior to joining the YWCA she was CEO for the Auckland foundation. It was during this time she launched New Zealand’s first Women’s Fund, which channels the generosity of a community of women to create opportunities for women and girls.
We had a chat with Dellwyn about feminism, and what her YWCA journey has in store.
What made you want to join the YWCA movement?
I joined the YWCA because it has always been flexible, staying relevant and powerful for young women. No organisation survives if it doesn’t constantly evolve to meet the changing environment and behaviours of the people it serves. I love change and am excited about stewarding this  yr old organisation through its next stage of growth. I’m concerned that girls voices and views are still not heard and I want to help change this.
What difference do you see the YWCA making for the women of Aotearoa?
I recently read the history of the YWCA - which is a really a history of women in Auckland. It has always been focused on meeting the needs of young women and pioneered in safe environments, childcare and many other issues girls have faced. And there are not many organisations that are focused on our girls and young women. Youth work takes a one size fits all approach on the whole, and there are needs that are particular to the different genders. We are fortunate to have this enduring institution that focuses on what our girls need.
What does the word ‘feminism’ mean to you?
When I was younger, feminism meant I could do anything. It was a personal challenge to not let gender get in the way of what I wanted to do in life. And I haven’t. Which is not to say that I didn’t encounter bias and barriers. I just pushed through them. But more recently my feminism has evolved to be more about how ALL women are doing. None of us are equal until all of us are. There is still a lot to be done!
What piece of advice would you give your younger self starting your career?
I’d remind my younger self that life is long and there is no need to rush, to place more value on the learnings and wins outside of work and not let your career define who you are. In the words of my teenagers – “ Chill Mum.”
You can hear more from Dellwyn on episode 5 of Girl Power Pod and read her Spinoff article The women who hold our communities together: a tribute to our strong wāhine.