Reflections on the European Regional Meeting

I wasn’t altogether sure what to expect of the European Regional Meeting. As a new addition to the YWCA Ireland National Board, I was very conscious that I was still finding my feet and learning about the work of YWCA in Ireland, let alone across Europe! I looked forward with anticipation to meeting YWCA members from our sister associations and learning about what they are doing in their different contexts.

After a slight diversion from our original travel plans and unexpected night in Frankfurt, we finally arrived in Stuttgart. The meeting was hosted by the YWCA of Germany in the wonderful surroundings of the Bernhauser Forst Conference Centre.

The business meeting took place over two days and covered a number of important topics including the review and adoption of European YWCA two year report. This document outlined the 3 broad objectives of the European YWCA and progress made by the EYWCA Board in achieving these. These are:

To build strong partnerships and national movements
To be a strong voice for the right of women and girls in Europe
To develop strong leaders advancing the vision and purpose of the YWCA
Reviewing these 3 objectives in the context of the business meeting gave me a better insight to the of the role of the European YWCA and its relationship with national YWCA associations.

Other key elements of the business meeting included making amendments to the European YWCA Constitution, the election of the new European YWCA Board and the presentation of two resolutions brought by YWCA Ireland. The first resolution called upon European YWCA’s to lobby their governments for the ratification of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and for the European YWCA to raise awareness of the convention. The second resolution called upon the European YWCA member associations to develop a European General Secretaries Network to facilitate the efficient sharing of skills, ideas and expertise and to encourage greater connectivity and engagement among European member associations. We were very excited to have had these resolutions debated and passed!

Of course it wasn’t all work and no play! Our German hosts provided great fun and entertainment that included a German evening featuring German dancing (which I won’t forget in a hurry!) and a cultural evening which provided national YWCA’s with an opportunity to share their culture with sister associations.

As new member of the National Board the ERM proved to be an excellent learning experience providing me with greater insight into the European YWCA and how YWCA Ireland fits into that bigger picture. It was a pleasure to discuss the work of different YWCA’s, discuss common issues, join in morning worship together and explore together the exciting role we can play in leading change in our respective countries and communities.

by Heather Wilson ERM Voting Picture

Leave a Reply