Local advocate selected for World YWCA leadership role

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Names of leaders and links to each of their local YWCA chapters are at the bottom of this post.

Amara Killen

On a blustery Walla Walla morning in late September, I logged into a zoom call with Michelle Tehedy, an 18-year-old YWCA leader from Soweto, South Africa. From the ten members of the 2021 World YWCA Leadership Cohort, we were partnered and asked to discuss the issues and solutions from our communities related to gender-based violence (GBV).

Michelle’s energy was contagious across the screen, and yet, despite her glowing smile, she admitted that she was exhausted after a week facilitating a multi-day GBV training course on for 150 youth in her community. We bonded over the inevitable tension of working in the field of GBV prevention, as stories of suffering and loss parallel those of survival and profound fortitude. We were united by our love of dance and our belief that to  end gender based violence we must create space to hear the voices of youth. 

“Feminism is not just an ideal that should be reached by all people, but more specifically, young men.” — Michelle

Members of the World YWCA 2021 Leadership Cohort brainstormed remotely then assembled this using individual videos taken all over the world.

Over the past three months as a member of the Leadership Cohort, I have been working and learning alongside nine other young women changemakers like Michelle from YWCA chapters in India, Kenya, Palestine, South Africa, South Sudan, Taiwan, and Zimbabwe. We are:

Board Members. Students. Activists. Filmmakers. Poets. Social Workers. Dancers. Organizers. Mothers. Sisters.

Together, across a 16-hour time difference between Walla Walla and Taipei, we share our stories, co-create works of art, and participate in leadership development sessions with powerhouse women leaders including:

  1. Japleen Pasricha, founder of Feminism in India.
  2. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ted Talk “Fire, aim, ready.”
  3. Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation.

I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to learn about global issues related to Gender Based Violence, and to showcase the amazing work being done in Walla Walla with the larger YWCA community. In the next few weeks, the Leadership Cohort Members will all be submitting blog posts to the platform World YWCA She Speaks which works to amplify young women’s voices. 

With love,
Amara Killen
Prevention Advocate and Human Rights Activist

Join this global solidarity movement

Please follow up to read our stories, and, if you are a young woman, girl, or female-identified youth, you can submit a blog post yourself to share your voice with the world. We want to hear your story!

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments to me at akillen@ywcaww.org

2021 World YWCA Leadership Cohort‘s online brainstorming session about different forms of gender-based violence that their communities face, which culminated in a video (see above or click here).

Pictured, from top left to bottom right: Maria Dorothy Padua from YWCA Secunderabad, India, Lara Khammash from YWCA Palestine, Michelle Mpho Tehedy from YWCA South Africa, Yvonne Anyango Ogollah from YWCA Kisumu, Kenya, Amara Killen from YWCA Walla Walla, USA, Runyararo Tembani from YWCA Zimbabwe, Latto Catherine Fred Tartisio from YWCA South Sudan, Angela (Zih-Han) Liu from YWCA Taipei, Taiwan, Nsreen Habet from YWCA Palestine, Annie Kumar from YWCA Secunderabad, India