YWCA’s Young Women Led the Way to Create Solutions to COVID-19 at the Global Youth Summit (23-25 April)

The Global Youth Summit (GYS) was the first virtual event of its kind, bringing together millions of young people from over 150 countries, the world’s six largest youth organisations*, policy makers and change makers to discuss challenges and provide solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our YWCA movement reported that it was the most youth representative event they have ever attended!

Young people, including 100s of young women from the YWCA and its partners, called on governments and businesses to prioritise youth in response to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. The Summit had support from 15 Governments, UN agencies and Royal Families from around the world. We will be working to follow-up the messages of support to turn these into concrete outcomes for young people.

Even if you couldn’t join the Summit or listen to all the sessions, there’s still a chance for all of you to get involved. Take these actions:

·   Apply for funding for local solutions to the impact of COVID-19. See how below**

·   Advocate for change in your local communities

·   Make the most of the Summit content to help others. You can watch over 45 engaging sessions here

·   Share your feedback and keep an eye on @worldywca movement posts across all main social media networks. Comment, share and post using ##YWCAleaders and #youthmobilize as hashtags and tag @worldywca and @gymobilization.

**Local solutions funding. A key aspect of the Summit was to provide ideas and incentivise young people to find their own solutions to the pandemic. To spark ideas, the themes of the Summit were education, inclusion, well-being and work. Applications for funding to support innovative Local Solutions across the globe are now being received and applied for via / on this portal. You can apply, no matter how big or small your idea, no matter if you are an individual or working with others. Don’t hesitate – the deadline is rolling. It’s a simple process. If you would like help to think through your idea, please contact us: getinvolved@worldywca.thinkbluedata.com

An initial $2 million of funding will be available in four tiers, from $500 through to $5,000 – all of which will be decided on by panels of young people. An accelerator programme will scale and replicate the most promising solutions, with further funding lined up over the coming months.

Key Themes

From education disruption, employment and skills, vaccine equity, financial literacy, human-trafficking, the rise in domestic and gender-based violence, the Sustainable Development Goals, digital citizenship, role of non-formal education and learning, climate change and more – the Summit covered it all!

YWCA Present at Every Level

Listen to the leaders of the Big Six, including our General Secretary, Casey Harden, explain the significance of the Summit. If you enjoy this inspirational video, please share through your social media channels to inspire other young women to take action (please use #YWCAleaders and #youthmobilize as hashtags and tag @worldywca).

Our women from the YWCA movement were fully engaged!

·   YWCA walked its walk and talked its talk. The World YWCA organised sessions on gender equity, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and menstrual health.

We played a key role in the plenaries with Namrata Sharma from @YWCAIndia and our YWCA friend Dr. Shakira Choonara, India @ChoonaraShakira.

We brought together wonderful YWCA leaders Meti Gemechu – Ethiopia, Maureen Magak – Kenya, Nanako Tojo – Japan, Anjum Sultana – Canada and Roni Shakya – Nepal to lead our sessions. We also partnered with young female facilitators beyond the YWCA, including those from YouAct in Europe and AFRIpads in Uganda;

·   Over 100 of you registered as participants, showcasing the power of the movement by actively engaging across all sessions;

·   Over 80 YWCA leaders joined pre-summit calls;

·   Over 74 joined our vibrant WhatsApp discussion group that is still ongoing;

·   Our social media posts created engagement, with multiple shares – please see highlights below;

·   We supported a number of you with funds to access the internet to participate in the Summit.

Top Benefits of the Summit for YWCA Leaders: 

·   Inspiration from young women ensuring we have a strong voice; 

·   Building back better with solutions to gender-based violence, menstrual and sexual health, mental health, work and childcare;

·   Being part of a very unique project, funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), giving you a chance to network with young people globally, leaders and policy makers; 

·   Contributing to Goal 2035 for the World YWCA movement: By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war, leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all! 

Outcomes:

The Summit called for investment and prioritisation in mental health support, community and leadership development, digital activism, vaccine equity and support for education systems to adapt to the new normal for all young people, especially the excluded or underrepresented.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, the Global Youth Mobilization will be working with us and our partners across the Big 6 youth organisations and beyond to build on the initial outcomes and develop a comprehensive set of policy recommendations from the Summit. These will form the basis of an advocacy campaign and support for young people to call for change at a local, national and international level. 

The Summit is just a start: a series of national and regional events will follow, where the concept will be contextualised to the national and regional needs of young people. Learn more here about the Global Youth Mobilization movement.

Engagement on social media was the highest for World YWCA out of all the Big Six Organisations! We promoted the Summit before, during and after, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We featured our young YWCA leaders in the posts, who shared their insights and action tips, as well as information on applying for funding. (Remember to follow us, if you don’t already, and encourage others in your networks to do so).

Here are some highlights: