Women of the Y

The YWCA is brimming with smart and dedicated women whose passion is to make a real difference for the women and young women of Aotearoa New Zealand. We would love for you to get to know these wonderful wahine, so will be sharing about them and their work in our Women of the Y series over the coming months.

Meet Zoe Brownlie - Workplace Programme Lead at YWCA Auckland, avid feminist, and mum to two great kids.

Zoe Brownlie 2019 Headshot 2.jpg

To get the ball rolling, tell us a little about yourself.

My name’s Zoe and I joined the Auckland ‘Y’ three months ago as the Workplace Programme Lead. My career so far has focussed around wellbeing; both for young people (healthy relationships, sexual health, and bullying), and for women in the workplace. I’m into equity, especially for young people and women, shared parenting and unpaid work, travel education, co-design, Te Ao Māori, and voting rights. Oh, and world peace.

When I’m not at the Y I’m parenting my two young kids, sitting on the Auckland District Health Board, and sitting on the RockEnrol Steering Group. And desperately trying to fit in live music and travel!

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism definitely doesn’t mean hating men and wanting special treatment. It’s about righting wrongs to reach true equality for all. A lot of it is about everyone taking responsibility to learn and share what true equality really means, and how we can contribute. Small acts make big differences, and boys and men can play a huge part in this.

Thinking about your work at the Y, what currently gets you excited?

I’m organising the Equal Pay Awards at the moment, so I’m excited by the idea of a great night celebrating the hard work that individuals and organisations are doing to support women. I’m also going to be focussing on the role that men play in unpaid work; parenting and domestic and emotional labour. This work has the potential to have a huge impact, so I’m SUPER EXCITED about it.

What keeps you coming back every day?

There are three main things that I love about working at the Y.

  1. The amazing feeling I get from being able to work on what I’m passionate about and that I’m making a difference.

  2. I get to work with extremely interesting, loving, and intelligent women who are all different but all want to influence positive social change.

  3. It is truly a flexible place to work, where everyone is trusted to do the work well, but that there’s more to life than working here.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young women today, what might that be?

That it doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t in a relationship, there are pros and cons to both. But if you do want to be in a relationship, then figure out the qualities you actually like in a person. Don’t be with someone because they’re hot or because they want to. You’ll have much more fun and feel more content if you figure out what you actually like in a person, and don’t settle for less.

And sign up to vote, so you can as soon as you turn 18!

What is your dream for the young women in Aotearoa New Zealand 10 years from now?

That gender norms are gone, all schools teach healthy relationship and civics education in-depth, there’s equal pay (and not just for women, but for all groups of women too), that hetero couples really do an equal amount of parenting, caring, and domestic and emotional work, that someone has found an easy and harmless cure for anxiety, depression, and negative body image, and that it’s cooler to make positive social change than it is to make money.