On the evening of 18 November, YWCA Australia held our 2021 virtual Annual General Meeting, enabling members from across the country to participate in this important governance meeting.
President Helen Conway set the scene, sharing how the last 12 months had been a time of challenge, reflection and opportunity for YWCA as we continued to explore the question ‘what’s the best possible Y?’ As YWCA emerges from the pandemic, we will continue to make young women’s leadership and women’s housing our priority for gender equity in Australia, with a focus on housing, safety, homelessness and support services, the elevation of young women’s voices into positions of leadership and applying an intersectional approach to everything we do.
Membership and Governance
We welcomed two new Life Members, recognised for their outstanding contributions to our work in advancing gender quality, significantly impacting our organisation, community and the YWCA movement both domestically and internationally – Lisa Gascoigne and Sarah Hill.
We celebrated elected directors – Apoorva Kallianpur, Mannie Kaur Verma and Molly George (re-elected), and thanked our board directors who are stepping down – Julia Goodall, Freya Mulvey and Juliana Nkrumah. Currently, 55 per cent (6/11) of our board is made up of young women, reflecting our commitment to young women’s leadership. We also celebrated elected Nominations Committee members – Jenessa O’Connell and Shanshan Guo, both young women, and acknowledged the contributions of Julia Burns and Melissa du Heaume who stepped down.
While the AGM is a celebration, it is also an opportunity to recognise the contributions of those who we have lost. We honoured a number of Y women who sadly died this year – Denise Jeitz and Jacqueline Mason were highly valued members of the Y and will be missed.
Operations and Financial Statements
We heard from Young Women’s Council (YWC) members on what they’ve enjoyed about being on our YWC and the opportunities they have had access to. Watch the video below:
Emma McCarthy, Treasurer of World YWCA, also joined us to provide an update on the activities of the World YWCA. It was great to hear how World YWCA is championing the voices of young women in their focus areas of gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health rights, COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery, mental health and more. Their increasing focus on intersectionality and inclusivity of underrepresented genders and sexualities is admirable as they continue to build the Y movement across the world to empower young women, women and girls.
Post-merger, there has been a strong interest in the organisational finances from members. Chief Executive Officer Michelle Phillips provided a detailed presentation on the Y’s activities and financial results for FY21. Full financial statements are available here.
As a membership organisation, our members are an integral part of our success as both a movement and an organisation. We are so proud to have hit 4,000 members over the last 12 months, with 49% of our current members being young women.
After the formalities were done and dusted, we kicked off our first Member Mingle – a chance for our members across the country to connect, converse and come together. Feminist musician, Milicent Sarre (Mim) from Adelaide started off the Member Mingle with a selection of four of her fabulous feminist hits. You can hear the songs and learn more about Mim on her website. We then split members into breakout rooms to give people a chance to chat to people they haven’t met before and share a little about their feminist passions and journey.
Looking Forward – 2022 and Beyond
In April 2021, we announced our revised 5-year strategy, YWCA Evolve Strategy, or as we like to call it – YeS 2026. We simplified our vision and purpose to provide greater clarity going forward. Our purpose acknowledges:
- Young women and women need homes to be safe, happy, healthy, and secure.
- That young women’s leadership and women’s housing are the priority issues YWCA will respond to, and impact.
- We will serve young women and women, including people of marginalised genders, as the primary beneficiaries of our work.
- And our work will impact gender equity because without equity, we cannot achieve equality.
Since our launch, we have been designing the strategy implementation, which will continue until March next year. We are excited to continue to work with our team members, members and other stakeholders as we create a future where gender equality is a reality.