Spotlight: YWCA Hamilton

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

Words by Anne Bennett — Manager, YWCA Hamilton

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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.