Every four years, the World YWCA conducts a series of business meetings inviting women from YWCAs in 120 countries. The focus of these meetings is empowering women, laying out the strategic framework for a movement focused on gender equality and ending violence, electing a new governing body for the worldwide movement, and connecting with our YWCA sisters from around the world. Relationships are built and connections are made. The political differences take a back seat during the session for an entire week so that the work of these women can be conducted. They bring themselves to the table as they are, proud of the country they call home and the culture they are a part of. Proud to be contributing to their communities in all of the big and small ways that a woman can. Proud to be representing their small slice of the world on a global scale. The days are long and heavy laden with work, but the work doesn’t seem so daunting when you are surrounded by many hundred women you can only view as sisters because your souls speak to each other on a level that spans cultural differences. There is much joy, laughter, and dancing through the halls during the week. There are many tears, shared embraces, handshakes, and encouragements of support. This is YWCA World Council.
To say YWCA World Council is a life-changing experience is accurate, but seems to fall short of describing the experience. I have had the pleasure and honor of participating in World Council twice, in two very different parts of the world. In 2015, I participated in World Council as a voting delegate with the YWCA USA delegation in Bangkok, Thailand. Most recently in 2019, I participated in World