International Women’s Day 2021

Date: 08 March 2021

This year, as we mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, we focus on what should be achieved to ensure women play a key role in decision-making, especially during this time of pandemic. According to the last Report of the UN Secretary-General released in December 2020, “Women serve as Heads of State or Government in only 21 countries while 119 countries have never had a woman leader“. It also states: “The pandemic is rolling back the limited progress made in the past 25 years with regard to women’s empowerment and gender equality“.

As an international organisation, we pledge to continue our work towards ensuring gender equality, for a world where every young person feels equal, empowered and included regardless of their identity or background. We asked a few women from our Movement what are their thoughts, ideas and wishes to reinforce this journey to gender equality.

Karla holding a sign saying "Let's work towards gender equality"COVID-19 has changed the way we see the world and communicate with others. We have had to distance ourselves from each other, but through technology, we have reconnected. Lots of opportunities for education and participation are now in the virtual environment, demonstrating that technology is increasingly essential in our lives to get access to information and stay connected.
However, this has been denied in many poor, rural and indigenous communities, where access to the internet and technology is very limited; and although it affects men and women equally, women are the ones who face the greatest disadvantages in the face of this digital gap.
Given this new context in a COVID-19 world, it’s important to reflect on how the YMCA can contribute to promoting digital inclusion that reduces this technological and educational gap suffered by many women around the world.

Karla Contreras
Programme coordinator YMCA Guatemala

During the COVID-19 crisis, it is very important to honor diversity and equality and the YMCA is committed to working for an equitable society. We are called on to build a human community of justice with love, peace, for all creation. We focus on human dignity based on the Christian spirit.
Therefore, we are asked to empower all, especially women and young people to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and work for an equitable society. I believe that women and girls have a great potential to create an equal future with YMCA servant leadership.
So let’s prepare to have an equitable society with dignity.

Nagako Okado
Former chairperson and member of the Gender Equity Committee of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

Emma Osmunden holding a sign saying "Make Equality a Reality"COVID-19 has shone a light on the dire inequalities in our households, villages, towns, cities, countries and across the globe. As we move towards recovery it is imperative that women and girls have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies and their environment.
We need to ensure that women and girls have equal rights and opportunities and that men and women get paid equally for work of equal value and share the care work at home.
I want the YMCA to make equality a reality through its work, putting the empowerment of young people at the heart of everything we do, leaving no one behind.

Emma Osmundsen
President YMCA Europe

An equal future in a post-COVID 19 world is achieved when women’s and girl’s empowerment is our top priority. Equal opportunities for education, jobs and remuneration; an audible and dignified voice;  decision making power and leadership positions are the  causes we need to defend and promote for women.
They are sine qua non conditions, absolute prerequisites,  for a just and equal future for generations of women.  We can no longer hear about the injustice of undervalued but overburdened women who bear family responsibilities alone and who are denied so many opportunities. The horrors of abuse, rape, incest and dehumanizing violence can never be allowed to happen in a world of empowered women and girls.

Lantonirina N Rakotomalala
General Secretary Africa Alliance of YMCA

Loris holding a sign saying "Together Towards Equality""As my country is going through an election process, I hope to see more women motivated to take roles in the government. Also, I would like to express how proud I am in being a youth volunteer and a new youth member in the board of the East Jerusalem YMCA, as we have women in leadership roles alongside men, not more nor less but equal, who are doing a magnificent job in helping our YMCA reach its goals and potentials.
I fully encourage females to take a step to show their abilities and strengths, and be who they want to be in whatever position they see fit. We are strong, we are here, and we are EQUAL.

Loris Tarazi
Board member YMCA East Jerusalem
Change Agent Cohort 4

YMCA resources

Are we getting closer to gender equality or further away? Last summer, World YMCA was represented at the UN Women Hearing on gender equality by 3 delegates

World Alliance of YMCAs Statement to the 64th Session of the Commission for the Status of Women.