Core to YWCA Auckland’s work is its Future Leaders self development and mentoring programme which was initiated 16 years ago with the vision of empowering young women to become capable and confident leaders in society, acting as role models for other young people and taking their leadership skills back into their homes and communities.
During this time, more than 900 young women have been through the four-year programme. Each has been empowered to make informed choices in her life, career, relationships and communities, and has developed the resiliency to meet and deal with life’s challenges.
Without this programme, many of these young women would not otherwise have had these opportunities. The young women in the programme are from low-socio economic communities who face many challenges throughout their lives and have limited access to opportunities and supportive adult relationships that enhance their life prospects. Many young women in this position leave school without adequate qualifications and struggle to find gainful employment. This sets them up for a life of low earnings and they struggle to exit this cycle of disadvantaged living.
The four objectives of the programme are: to increase young women's self-confidence by providing access to a range of experiences; to support and encourage young women to achieve their self-defined goals; to support young women's educational achievement; and to facilitate opportunities for young women to actively lead.
In the words of one young woman when she graduated last year: “I gained confidence in myself and in my ability to apply myself to tasks and see them through. I’m thankful for Future Leaders because I believe if I wasn’t in the programme I would have left school and not finished well. I’m thankful to my mentor who really helped me to focus and remain on track.”
Our newest programme is a collaboration between YWCA Auckland, the Maori Women’s Welfare League and Puutake, the Māori Unit at James Cook High School. Hinekura is a strengths-based preventative programme; in essence diverting the young wāhine course where needed and directing them toward more positive social and economic outcomes.
Whakawhanaungatanga (the making of culturally meaningful connections with others) is at the centre of this four year programme.
The naming of Hinekura
Ko te tikanga o te kupu nei, he hine/kohine rātou, ko te kura i tango mai i te kupu māreikura, he ariki, he rangatira hoki te kupu kura, he toto, he uri i heke mai i a Hinetitama.
The name Hinekura is split in to two. Hine/kohine represents the young women with the kupu kura taken from the word māreikura. Māreikura meaning a supreme being or chiefess. A descendent from Hinetitama (Maori Atua).
Money Savvy is a financial skills course that we deliver through schools and community groups when young people are starting to think about their future; when they might be getting their first job and before they get into debt or skip reading the fine print of a contract. In 2016, the programme was presented on a marae in Te Reo Maori and we have also partnered with YWCA Hamilton and Whangarei to successfully pilot Money Savvy in their communities.
Safe For Life
In April 2015, we launched Safe For Life, a programme aimed at teaching women and girls aged 14-30 how to stay safe in different situations. To design the programme, we held 100+ conversations with Auckland women. We wanted to know exactly what worried them.
We sat and listened while they shared their safety concerns. We learnt when and why they felt unsafe. It won’t surprise you to hear that alcohol related incidents were top of the list. We based our course on what they told us.
We then took these ideas to the National Youth Advisor at the New Zealand Drug Foundation, to collaborate on our alcohol messaging. Finally, we partnered with Protect Self Defence to teach women how to protect themselves from physical threat using their intuition before it becomes necessary to defend themselves.
The response from women and girls attending the programme has been fantastic. We have so far delivered workshops across Auckland in both school and community settings.
Equal Pay Awards
The YWCA Equal Pay Awards was launched in 2014 and the Equal Pay Best Practice Compact followed in 2016. The Awards was initially driven out of the Y’s dismay that despite its efforts to help young people reach their potential, once they entered the workforce there remained a high probability they would be undervalued compared to their male counterparts.
The Compact provides an entry-level platform for businesses that have started their equal pay journey but are not yet ready to enter the awards. If successful, the business is able to display a certificate and other collateral that prove their commitment to equal pay.
Since 2014, more than 70 organisations have participated, and in the past two years alone, nearly 100,000 employees collectively benefited from organisations that entered the Awards or achieved the Compact.
Seminars and workshops complement the programme, offering equal pay leaders the opportunity to share their story with likeminded businesses looking to make a difference in gender pay and gender inclusiveness. Equal pay organisations benefit too, attracting talent by being an employer of choice, enjoying an enhanced corporate reputation and unleashing the economic potential of their female workforce.