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Describes an approach that places the transformation of power relations, and especially gender power relations, at the heart of all social change analyses or processes. Feminist change interventions centre the empowerment of women and other marginalised genders; the transformation of gender power relations; and the advancement of gender equality. Feminist change interventions are often viewed through a ‘gender lens’, i.e. asking whether gender equality and women’s rights are being consciously addressed and advanced by the change process. 5
See also: Feminism
Describes an approach that applies human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation and accountability. A human rights-based approach makes the fulfillment of human rights a key priority in every programme, project and activity.
Being inclusive means supporting a sense of belonging for others, whoever they are. Inclusive spaces are achieved when individuals have agency to share opinions, make decisions, and feel respected and valued, regardless of their identity. To promote inclusive spaces, the YWCA fully acknowledges and embraces the diversity of race, ethnicity, health, status, class, caste, differently abled, indigenous, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and faith 6 .
Describes the relationship between and across generations. An intergenerational approach is grounded in respect for the lived experience of each individual, independent of their age, and what we can learn from them.
Refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender. When these social categories apply to a given individual or group, their overlapping can create new and interdependent power relations, discriminations, (dis)advantages, or privileges.
“Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”
A process that uses a variety of techniques in order to share power and ownership over agenda, process and outcomes. Participants are encouraged to identify possible solutions and actions to be taken. The methods aim to articulate and share the perspectives of more marginalized groups; and foster their direct collaboration with those in positions of power and authority. 8
To be accountable means to be held responsible for a task, job, program, or upholding of a law. Accountability is the responsibility that a person or a group has for a particular action. It requires trust, and is often coupled with an enforcement mechanism or consequences for not following through.
Example: Accountability for human rights means that certain people (for example, government representatives and service providers) must respect, protect and fulfill human rights. Putting accountability into action means ensuring that young women know and demand their rights, and that those responsible take action to improve a situation.
A series of planned in-person and/or
online processes seeking engagement and
feedback on how to advance an agenda.
A feminist consultation is structured to
be non-hierarchical and should look at
extra-personal and outside factors. A feminist consultation is culturally responsive
and empowering. More broadly, consultation can range from formal to informal;
and active (people provide comment and
feedback on the decision-making process)
to passive (people are merely informed). 9
A formal and legal document that sets out the basic rules and regulations to form an association of humans. Constitutions can provide the basic rules and regulations for states and countries, but also for organisations such as the YWCA.
A formal or informal agreement whereby an individual commits themselves to the specific cause or activity of an organization, team, or group. Often, engagement is the result of a personal or emotional connection between the member and the organization, as they share a passion and commitment for the same causes, mission, vision and/or values.
Describes something (e.g. an organisation, movement or approach) whose values or mission are based on or draw inspiration from a certain faith or system of beliefs.
Goals define and quantify the steps a movement must take. They are the signposts that let you know that you are moving in the right direction. They are measurable and answer questions like “When?” and “How much?” 10 Goals are aimed to create a specific impact. For example: the World YWCA Goal 2035 talks about «By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainable YWCA movement inclusive of all women.»
The establishment of rules, policies, procedures and structures that define roles and responsibilities within an organisation. Governance and its associated processes guide how different actors within an organisation interact, make decisions, and are held accountable 11.
A process of organising and mobilising communities in order to respond to common problems and concerns. Movement building can include a shared analysis of why the problem exists; a common vision and agenda for change; and short- and long-term strategies. Movement building also requires that those involved define shared principles and mechanisms for communication; roles and responsibilities; internal processes 12.
A mutually beneficial relationship between two or more individuals or institutions. In a partnership, both partners join around a common objective, and each partner has a fully recognized agency and role.
See also: Agency
The process of raising or leveraging resources (example. funding, expertise, knowledge, people, etc.) to accomplish a goal or build capacity. This also includes making better use of, and maximising, existing resources.
Target groups are the specific groups of people you want to reach with your work. These can be defined based on different permutations between and age, ethnicity, geography, gender. For example, under YWCA, target groups are defined as the following:
Women: 18 years and older
Young women: Women age 30 or under
Girls: Minors, 17 years and younger
Defines the optimal desired future state of what the movement wants to achieve over time. A vision is often the answer or mental picture that comes up when asked ‘what do we want to achieve, in the long run?’. It provides guidance and inspiration to the movement. 13
“Advocacy consists of both strategy and
action to achieve an objective. The objective of advocacy is the engagement of
stakeholders in the decisions affecting
them. The actions to achieve the objective,
such as lobbying those stakeholders, typically occur over time, and incrementally.” 14
The use of advocacy to accomplish policy change. Policy change can include changing laws, programs, frameworks, views, norms, etc. of governments, corporations, and other bodies that hold power or influence over large groups of people.
The improvement of an individual’s or an
organization’s ability to fulfill their mission by strengthening their infrastructure,
skills or expertise, governance, and human
resources. Capacity-building can happen
through training, investment, experiential
learning, etc. 15
Refers to the “variety of unique dimensions, qualities and characteristics we all possess.” 16 Diversity captures the differences in our identities, experiences, and perspectives. It is a ‘mirror’ of what makes people different within a given space or group. However, diversity is not a guarantor of equal power or access within that space or group.
The process of devolving or restoring power to an individual or a group of individuals. Empowerment often helps individuals to grow stronger, more confident, and exert more agency and control over their life, rights and choices.
See also: Agency
“Feminism today must be understood a little differently from the past, when it was mainly considered an ideology that proposed equality between men and women. Given its evolution over the past fifty years, we prefer to define feminism as ‘an ideology, an analytical framework and a strategic framework.’ This means that the ideology of equality that is so central to feminism, has led to the creation of a framework for analysing power in society. It has also led to the development of social change strategies that consider the transformation of power relations, especially gender power relations, at the heart of all social change processes.” 17 Rather than being a single concept, there is a spectrum of feminism shaped by the lived experiences, identities and communities of feminists around the globe.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, gender, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. 18
A process that creates new or improves existing mechanisms in order to ‘better’ solve a problem. For example, ‘innovation’ would solve a social, technological, or business problem by introducing an intervention that facilitates a complex process.
Empowering, collaborating with, inspiring or mentoring a group of individuals or organisations in order to create positive change. Within the World YWCA movement, leadership is shared, inclusive and transformative. 19
YWCA young women’s transformative leadership builds upon the existing knowledge, creativity, and capacity of YWCA young women as leaders of positive social, economic and environmental change. It celebrates the processes by which young women jointly explore their strengths, educate themselves, and identify as decision makers. It also seeks to provide them with the confidence, knowledge, information, skills, and support to understand and manage power imbalances, challenge injustices, hold powerful people to account and make positive change in their lives. 20
See: “transforming” and “leadership” .
The learning process and experiences that a (young) woman goes through as she acknowledges and defends her human rights at home and in her community; while also strengthening the movement of (young) and girls within her country and beyond. 21
Describes the creation of safe spaces for respectful and empowering dialogue at the local, national and global levels. This is also accompanied by genuine and inclusive engagement through active and meaningful participation, the mapping and redistribution of power and access to opportunities, the promotion of intergenerational dialogues on important issues, and inclusive decision-making processes. 22
(Also referred to as social movement)
Movements are not only about visible moments of mobilization or protest against a specific incidence of injustice. Rather, they include a range of strategies, participants, organizations, and actions over time. Movements generally have no exact road map or specific structure. However, according to Srilatha Batliwala, a movement usually has: a political vision and broad agenda; broad membership and active constituency base; some degree of organization, formal and informal linkages; proactive and reactive joint actions in pursuit of common goals; and continuity over time adjusting to moment/context. Movements also include activities that combine ‘outside’ strategies (marches, protests, organizing, gathering) and ‘inside’ or institutional strategies (advocacy and lobbying, consciousness raising). 23.
Putting non-discrimination into practice means making sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally.
Example: Government services, projects, programs and policies that apply non-discrimination in practice must serve members of society who are often left behind, marginalized, silenced and ignored equally. Each country or community may have different marginalized people. However, young women are often among the most discriminated.
Participation occurs when you bring your full, authentic self to an activity, group, or movement; and are able to engage in a meaningful way with those around you. Participation allows people, especially those who are often left out of decision-making, to take part in community decisions and contribute to positive change in their lives and the lives of others.
Example: Participation does not mean just sitting and listening, nor does it mean just helping out. For young women leaders, active participation means that they are helping to shape the discussion on an issue; looking for solutions to a problem; planning on how to improve a situation; taking action; and then monitoring results.
Literally means ‘rule of the father’. “Historically, patriarchy refers to systemic and institutionalized male domination embedded in and perpetuated by cultural, political, economic and social structures and ideologies. These systems explicitly make women inferior and subordinate and confer control and decision making on males while making values associated with masculinity the norm or ideal. Patriarchy has many particular forms in different stages of history and in different cultures. The concept, as it has been developed within feminist writings (because it has existed in anthropology far longer), is not a single or simple concept but has a variety of different meanings.” 24
The capacity or ability to influence – through individual action or by contributing to collective efforts – the behaviour of others or the course of events. 25
Describes the ability of an individual or group of individuals to act independently and make their own free choices. Agency can be limited or influenced by discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, race, disability, social class, etc.
A system of influence and control over individuals, organisations, governments or other spheres of life. Power structures exist in every human relationship, in families, and in organisations such as the YWCA. While power structures will always exist, it is important to be mindful of unequal and unfair power structures – even where these are minimal or reducing – to understand how these might impact on people’s agency and behaviour.
“Unearned access to resources (social power) that are only readily available to some people because of their social group membership; an advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by one societal group above and beyond the common advantage of all other groups.” Privilege is something that can be inherent (i.e. white privilege, male privilege) or something that is or can be gained through time (i.e. class privilege, adult privilege). 26
Discrimination and prejudice based on race. Here, race refers to the socially and politically constructed classification of people based on skin colour, shared ancestry, and heritage. Racism exists at the individual, cultural, and systemic levels. It serves to privilege certain racial groups over others. “Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.” 27
Online or offline places that seek to provide an environment where all people feel safe, comfortable, and can share their experiences, opinions, and views without fear or threat of political, economic or personal harm.
8 Defining Elements of a YWCA Safe Space: Accessible and Safe Location; Leadership and Participation; Accurate and Reliable Information; Building Trust; Holistic Approaches; Intergenerational Cooperation; Dignity and Respect; Partnership and Accountability.
An online space/platform created to provide an environment that encourages all people present to share experiences, opinions, and views without fear or threat of political, economic or personal harm.
Change in both the power structures that govern society and the cultural norms and values that individuals aspire to. Advocacy, resource mobilization, movement building, and young women transforming power structures are all examples of ways in which we can achieve social change. See also: “The alteration of mechanisms within [society], characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behaviour, social organizations, or value systems.” 28
The ability or capacity for something to last over a long period of time. Sustainability creates ongoing renewal or regeneration with minimal resources. 29
A process that meets human development goals while protecting the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which both the economy and society depend. 30
Recognising and striving to alter or change the underlying root causes of inequalities and inequities, rights violations, marginalisation and exclusion of women. 31
Women of colour refers to non-white people who identify as women. Women of colour may belong to various races, ethnicities, and nationalities. However, they often share the experience of racialization – the process of social construction of race. 32
BIPOC is an acronym used to describe Black, Indigenous and People of Colour because of the unique context of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the genocide of Indigenous peoples through colonialism. This term emerged from women of color themselves and was constructed as a term of solidarity 33.
A state where women, men, girls and boys and people of all genders can benefit from equal rights, treatment, responsibilities and opportunities. Gender equality does not imply sameness. 34
Gender equity: While gender equality aims to provide equal rights and opportunities to people of all genders, it does not address the systemic barriers that women and gender minorities may face due to other factors like age, ethnicity, race, ability, sexual orientation, etc. Gender equity aims to provide fairness and justice so that marginalized groups can access these opportunities and benefit from these rights.
See also: “Intersectional”.
Example: Gender equality would be giving a man and a woman the same bullet-proof vest, even though their body shapes are often different (e.g. a woman might not be able to fit the vest over her chest). Gender equity would be giving each individual a bullet-proof vest that is tailored to their body shape.
An analysis based on the understanding that a person’s gender has important implications on the ways that they experience certain political, economic, and social phenomena. Can also be described as an “analytical process used to assess how… women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives.” 35
From the Greek language: literally, the hatred of women. Misogyny manifests in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, disenfranchisement of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.
Discrimination based on sex. Sexism is often manifested in the discrimination of women on the basis of their sex positive behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. 36
Sexual harassment is defined as any behaviour with a sexual aspect that is unwanted by and/or humiliating to another person.
Note: When talking about gender identity and sexual orientation, we do so in the knowledge that there is diversity in the way we identify and the way we love and are attracted to others, whether they are of a different sex, the same sex, or both. This variety of sexual desires has existed throughout history and in every country and culture of the world. It is also important to know that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be changed by religion, conversion therapy, or medical treatment. Moreover, a person’s sexual behavior or gender identity may change over their lifetime. Widely held discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people can make cruel and violent treatment seem acceptable, when it is not and should never be. 38
Refers to a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to people of the same and/or other gender. Sexual orientation can be described as, but is certainly not limited to: heterosexual/straight, homosexual/gay, and bisexual. It is important to note that sexual orientation is distinct from gender identity and expression
A person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being male, female, something other or in-between, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. Everyone has a gender identity.
An individual’s characteristics and behaviours (such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions) that may be perceived as specific to a gender.
Lesbian: sexual attraction between two women.
Gay: usually, sexual attraction between two men. However, in some contexts, the term ‘gay’ has also been used as an umbrella term for same-sex attraction, regardless of gender.
Bisexual: sexual attraction towards people of the same and of another gender.
Transgender: An umbrella term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from their gender assigned at birth. A person whose sex assigned at birth was female but who identifies as male is a transgender man (also known as female-to-male transgender person, or FTM). A person whose sex assigned at birth was male but who identifies as female is a transgender woman (also known as male-to-female transgender person, or MTF). Not everyone described above considers themselves transgender – they may use other words, or may identify simply as a man or woman. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight, just like non-transgender people. People who identify as transgender may decide to ‘transition’. Transition may include “coming out” (telling family, friends, and co-workers); changing the name and/or sex on legal documents; or accessing medical treatment such as hormones and surgery
Intersex: People born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of either female or male, but show elements of both.
Queer: Someone whose sexual orientation and gender identity do not fall within the categories described above.
Questioning: Someone who is exploring their sexuality and/or gender and does not identify with a specific category.
The above definitions describe different points on a broader gender identity and presentation spectrum. Some people may not identify with any of them – that is not to say that they should not be accounted for in movements that defend the rights of sexual and gender minorities. You do not need a label to legitimise the way you identify.
“Most people identify as either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of «man» or «woman,» or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time. People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves. Terms include non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing - but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.” 39
Child marriage is any formal or informal union where one or both of the individuals are under 16 or 18 years of age, depending on different legal contexts. Forced marriage is said to have occurred when one or both of the individuals have not agreed or consented to the marriage.
A significant difference in usual weather patterns over an extended period of time. Climate change can be felt on a local level (for example, more or less rain leading to floods or drought) and on a global level (for example, rising global temperatures or rising sea levels). Often, climate change generates unpredictable weather and environmental repercussions, which have proven destructive and dangerous.
Describes efforts towards the prevention and remedy of climate change’s differentiated impact based on gender. Indeed, gender inequality often magnifies the consequences of climate change on women and girls, in both rich and poor countries. As women make up the majority of poor people, they have fewer resources to respond to the negative effects of climate change. The effects in the short-term (for example, through natural disasters such as landslides, floods and hurricanes) and in the long-term (for example, through more gradual environmental destruction like rising sea levels or deforestation) put the welfare and survival of women and their families at risk. These events impact many important areas of life including agriculture and food security; biodiversity and ecosystems; water resources; human health; and human settlements and migration patterns.
In most labour markets, women and young women continue to participate on an unequal basis with men. Economic justice describes all efforts that seek to rectify this situation. Investing in women’s economic empowerment is crucial for gender equality, women’s rights, poverty eradication and achieving inclusive economic growth for all. 42
Examples of economic injustices: Women’s skills are often unrecognized and undervalued.
When women do get a job, they are paid less than men. The wage gap (the difference between what a woman and a man get paid for the same or similar work) discriminates against women, and this discrimination is present in every country in the world.
Added to the injustice of unequal pay are unequal opportunities. In times of economic crisis, women are the ‘first fired and last hired’, or the first to see decreased wages. In addition, they are often excluded from organized labour (i.e. labour unions, worker’s groups, etc.).
Unpaid care work: Unpaid care work can include household tasks like cooking and cleaning; and caring for children, the ill and the elderly. Despite its importance for well-being, unpaid care work is commonly left out of policy agendas due to a common misperception that, unlike standard market work measures, it is too difficult to measure and less relevant for policies. Yet, neglecting unpaid care work leads to incorrect inferences about levels and changes in individuals’ well-being and the value of time, which in turn limit policy effectiveness across a range of socio-economic areas, notably gender inequalities in employment and other empowerment areas 43.
The common foundation upon which YWCAs around the world seek to speak to and create dynamic and positive opportunities for women, young women and girls. This intersection allows young women to jointly use their feminist knowledge, spiritual beliefs and human rights training to define their social justice causes and action. Working towards gender equality by using faith and feminism to sustain social justice arguments further strengthens human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation, empowerment, accountability and transparency within religious communities.
Refers to physical, emotional, psychological, economic and/or political violence levied against people based on their gender 44.
Violence against women and girls: An act of gender discrimination against women and girls because they are female. This creates harm and suffering that may be physical or emotional, for example in reaction to threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Violence can happen at home, work, school or in public places.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is primarily transmitted through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) or blood (for instance, through the sharing of needles among drug users). HIV develops into the disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). While medication does exist for people living with HIV, and allows them to live long lives, there is no cure for AIDS.
The fulfillment of all human rights including justice, health, human dignity and environmental justice as well as participation and enjoyment. Peace is best embodied by the freedom to live harmoniously with others 46.
Violence, war and armed conflict harm entire communities. However, some groups may be more impacted than others. The safety and welfare of women, young women and girls is often put at greater risk because of previously existing gender discrimination and their status in society.
Example: During armed conflict, women may face horrendous crimes such as rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy, as armed parties (state or non-state), gangs and other individual abusers may use sexual violence as a form of terror and intimidation. Ending impunity and prosecuting those responsible for such crimes, so that women receive justice and future crimes are deterred, is as important as looking for means of reconciliation, reparations and a communal search for truth to build a sustainable peace. A truly sustainable peace will only be achieved where gender equality and justice prevail. Once the conflict has ended, women have also been shown to remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence and other forms of abuse – namely, at the hands of family members or intimate partners who use violence and abuse as a means to deal with their own experience of the conflict.
Sexual and reproductive health is part of overall health and wellbeing. When a person can freely decide when and with whom to have sex; if, when, and how often to have children; and how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and have access to the relevant services and information, then they are exercising their sexual and reproductive rights 48.