Women of the Y

Meet Susanne Axelsson; Comm’s Director of YWCA Auckland, Swede with sass, and all-round dynamo!


Susanne on Susanne

I was born and raised under the northern lights and the never setting midnight sun in the northern parts of Sweden. As a child I used to stay out for days in the forest with my family; there I got the space and freedom which has made a great impact on who I am today. I love spending time outside in nature and that is one of the reasons why I fell in love with NZ and all the great outdoors it has to offer.

Professionally I have always been working in the creative field, I have a background in marketing and communication but also photography and I been working on the digital space for most parts of my career delivering digital projects such as websites, digital marketing campaigns, apps etc. I started working for the Y in May this year.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An architect but luckily I realised early that maths was not my strongest side.

If you could, what advice would you give your teenage self?

Be kind to yourself.

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

You don't need to know what you want to do with your life now, explore as much as possible, don't be afraid of failure or commitments and take every opportunity that will come your way - if it resonates with who you are and your values in life, it will always teach you something along the way!

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me means that every person gets treated equally no matter their gender and has equal rights to make choices and decisions.

What does your role at the Y involve?

As a Communication Director, I work across all kinds of projects. I make sure that our brand is communicated consistently and that we capture all those stories and tell them well so that others can benefit from the work we do too and/or feel proud to be part of it. Currently, I am working on a big exhibition reflecting the life of 18-year-old girls, and I am also working on re-branding, content creation and all things marketing and comms!

What keeps you coming back every day?

The people I work with are amazing and we are such a skilled and diverse team. I love the freedom and responsibilities that come with the job I have and it provides a great creative outlet for me which always been important in everything I do. I also love working for a good cause that makes a difference for young women in New Zealand.

Thinking about your work at the Y, what currently what makes your pulse race?

Bringing ideas to life and seeing them develop as part of the journey! I love being a part of change and progress, I know change can be frightening for many people but I also love the challenge that comes with getting people across the line. There is a lot of change happening at the Y and that makes me really excited to be part of.

What is the most exciting thing happening for young women in Aotearoa New Zealand today?

Since Jacinda became our prime minister I feel that the voices of women have risen and I hope we will be able to see that developing further because there are some really cool, strong females out there doing amazing things, and their voices need to be heard!

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

This is hard because there is so much that needs to be done in this space to make sure young women in New Zealand are treated equally. But I wish that young women find the power to be who they want to be without being afraid of being judged because of their sex. I also hope that young women get better at supporting each other and see the benefits of standing together, and that in 10 years’ time those women living in a heterosexual relationship will not experience inequality of any sort in the relationship they are in.

Who inspires you?

I don't have a person that inspires me. I get inspired by learning new things and challenging myself and my beliefs. Being out in nature is also important to me and it’s amazing how many ideas I been getting from that! Not all good ones but it definitely sets my mind free.

Social media has grown exponentially in recent times. Which, in your opinion, are the platforms that provide the soundest advice and/or information for young women?

Instagram is constantly growing among younger audiences - influencer marketing is among the fastest-growing marketing in the world. It's amazing the power that comes with it when it's being used for the right cause. Just look on the strike for climate change that Greta Thunberg started. Global Climate Strike for the Future was to be the most widespread of strikes: over 100 countries were involved in the strike all over the world! Young females are given an opportunity to use their voice and connect across the whole world just through one platform.

Susanne can be contacted via email at susanne@akywca.org.nz.