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New President and New General Secretary 2007-2011 article

World YWCA welcomes new president, new general secretary

published: 11 Jul 2007 — 16:08 last modified: 11 Jul 2007 — 16:24  World YWCA


Susan Brennan (R), incoming World YWCA president and Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda (L), World YWCA general secretary designate at the closing ceremony of the 26th World YWCA Council The 26th World YWCA Council concluded today with the ratification of Susan Brennan as the World YWCA president elect and Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda as the World YWCA general secretary designate. Both will lead the World YWCA for the next four years through the 2011 World Council to be held in Zurich, Switzerland.


Susan Brennan, from Australia, is a barrister practicing in administrative, town planning and environmental law. “I am very optimistic about the future of our movement” says Brennan, a former president of the YWCA of Australia. Brennan , who replaces Mónica Zetzsche as president, was active in providing NGO input into the drafting of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and coordinated human rights hearings at the YWCA International Women's Summit in 2003. She is a previous co-convenor of the Women's Rights Action Network of Australia and has written and spoken extensively on women’s human rights.   


Speaking of the challenges that face women in the 21st century, Brennan cites violence against women, the situation of women living in armed conflict and the circumstance of women living with HIV or affected by HIV and AIDS. Central to the issues women face is economic justice, the new president points out, “economic justice not just at an individual level, but the system wide factors which really keep women in poverty.”  


“The YWCA movement is very committed to young women’s leadership,” 37 year old Brennan proudly declares. Brennan was 27 years old when elected co-president of the YWCA of Australia, “if the YWCA didn’t stress young women’s leadership it would have taken me another 20 years to become president of the World YWCA.”   


Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, from Zimbabwe, will replace Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, who has served as general secretary of the World YWCA for the past eight years. Gumbonzvanda has worked since 2001 as the regional programme director for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for East and Horn of Africa. Before that she worked as the national child rights advisor for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Zimbabwe and as human rights officer and chief of section on Rights Promotion and Communication for UNICEF in Liberia. She is the first International Coordinator of the Women’s Committee of the World Conference on Religion and Peace and Chair of the Advisory Committee of the African Women of Faith Network. She is also advisor for the Centre for Land, Economy and Rights of Women. Gumbanzvanda has a Masters in Law from the University of South Africa and completed post graduate work on conflict resolution at Uppsala University, Sweden.   


“I am really excited to come to the World YWCA” Gumbonzvanda said this morning. Of the YWCA movement, the general secretary designate says “[the YWCA] has the potential and the possibility to build on its on going work in terms of bringing the reality of women’s lives to the decision-making table.” Gumbonzvanda brings to the YWCA an understanding of how inter-governmental organisation and governments work having worked with United Nations for 10 years. “Women’s organisations should not work in poverty,“ Gumbonzvanda affirms identifying the issue of resources as one of the challenges that face all women’s organisations, “women’s issues are not as funded as mainstream issues... the World YWCA must be equally resourced in order to deliver to the 25 million women and girls it reaches. “   


The 26th World YWCA Council has been meeting in Nairobi from July 1-11 and featured the first ever global conference on women and HIV and AIDS.

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