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Every year on April 24th, YWCAs around the world celebrate World YWCA Day. It is a day to observe our common membership and achievements in a movement that advances the human rights and leadership of women, young women and girls. On this day, we recognize our collective impact in creating positive change for all women of all ages, all around the world. Today we celebrate the leaders whose vision founded our movement, the leaders of today and our future successors that will carry forward the YWCA work in the same spirit.

This year’s theme for World YWCA Day will focus on how young women can transform and change the power structures that often dominate our societies, preventing young women from achieving the basic human right of equality. Last year, World YWCA Day celebrated the fact that every woman and young woman has the right to be heard under the theme: “Find your voice, share your story”. This theme highlighted how our voices are powerful tools and a means of self-introspection, allowing women and young women to grow and realize their space within this movement, while simultaneously challenging the patriarchal and sexist systems that still exist in our world today.

As women, we make up half of the world’s population, but the structures of power that exist do not reflect this simple fact. In countless ways, the world is structured to accommodate men and discriminate against women. Because of this, we need to use our diversity to continue to speak out and fight for change through every available avenue.

We can make a difference by challenging oppressive systems. It begins with listening to young women’s stories and amplifying their efforts to build a more equal society. As women and young women, we all have unique experiences and our own ways to express the power and strength that we have. We experience gender discrimination differently across our ages, cultures, identities, and statuses, and collectively as women, young women, and girls. It is time to use our voices and collective strength, through an inter-generational approach, to create opportunities for young women to thrive within the YWCA movement and promote their leadership in their homes, communities, and beyond. With this approach, the young women can influence power structures and work towards a world where justice and gender equality prevail.