YWCA in Aotearoa New Zealand and the world

Founded 160 years ago in the UK, the World YWCA movement reaches over 25 million women and girls in over 120 countries today, from South Sudan to Iceland.

The YWCA began in London in 1855. Two determined women on a mission proposed a simple idea. Women would create opportunities for other women: they would stand beside the young to improve their opportunities and shape a better future. The movement quickly took root around the world. 

You are reading this today because women in Dunedin, back in 1877, also thought ‘women + young women’ was a good idea! The national association, established in 1907, was originally part of the Joint YWCA of Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand formed its own national association in 1926, as the YWCA of New Zealand. This became the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand in 1991 is recognised today as national association of women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs. .

In this, the 21st Century, the simple founding principle has never been more relevant and powerful.  During the international day of protest early in 2017, women walked together, demanding the right to a gender equal future. Cities in Aotearoa and around the world, rocked with the power of women and their determined voices. They were young and old, advantaged and not. They wore pussy hats and sun hats, hijabs and piercings. Many had started as teenagers back in the 1960s and would never have imagined that six decades later, they would still need to be marching. But here they were: this time walking beside their daughters and granddaughters and young colleagues. From mini-skirts to walking frames, the mission and the determination is still the same. Women want the same thing for all women. Gender equality and all the fairness, opportunity and possibility that goes with it. It takes many generations to change an attitude. WE ARE ALL WOMEN STANDING BEHIND YOUNG WOMEN for 100% SAFETY, OPPORTUNITY, FREEDOM, CHOICE, FAIRNESS.

The World YWCA Vision is:

A fully inclusive world where justice, peace, health, human dignity, freedom and care for the environment are promoted and sustained by women’s leadership.

The 2012-2015 Strategic Framework of the World YWCA identifies three goals:


In building women’s leadership, the World YWCA is transforming women and girls from programme beneficiaries into agents of change. This focus on young women’s leadership takes place in an intergenerational context that promotes shared leadership and mentoring across generations.


Our priorities are centred on addressing the most abhorrent violations of women’s rights – ending widespread violence against women and girls.

We are creating safe spaces for women and girls in their diversity, recognising that, throughout our lifetime, we all face vulnerability to violence, discrimination and rights violations.


We actively support and participate in the worldwide movement through World YWCA and other European and international initiatives which strengthen the position and rights of all women.

Envisioning 2035: A Movement of 100 Million Women and Girls

YWCA Auckland is excited to be contributing to Envisioning 2035; a 20-year programme of collective action for the future of the World YWCA movement. Follow #Envision2035 and @worldywca for all the latest news.