On March 8, 2012, the World YWCA, one of the largest international movements of women and girls around the world, joins governments, women, faith and youth networks and the wider civil society community to celebrate this important day’s timely global theme: “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”.

We call upon our members in 125 countries to reflect on the global theme in our collective efforts to empower millions of girls worldwide and inspire positive futures through programmes and services. Each year the United Nations declares an overall International Women's Day theme, which in 2012 is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. This year, we urge you to connect girls, inspire the future and claim rights in an effort to end hunger and poverty especially among rural communities. This links with the YWCA Movements’ vision to develop the leadership of women and girls, and to its new Strategic Framework for 2012-2015, which prioritises efforts to secure the human rights of girls.

This International Women’s Day, we remind ourselves of the outcomes and deep commitments made at  the World YWCA  International Women’s Summit (IWS) held in Zurich, Switzerland in July 2011, which called for a global agenda for action that advances the leadership, empowerment and rights of women and girls.

The World YWCA working with its partners worldwide reaffirms its investments in key actions focused on girls that include:

  • Empower girls by keeping them in school, thus enabling them to realise their full potential.
  • Resource and promote universal primary and secondary education for girls
  • Accelerate efforts to prevent child marriage and support services to girls who are or have been married at an early age
  • Promote comprehensive and age appropriate sexuality education and services for young people
  • Create safe spaces for women and girls experiencing violence and discrimination to access support and empowerment
  • Ensure intergenerational and shared leadership at all levels to affirm the experiences of women of all ages and give space for young women’s leadership development

In the words of Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary: “We must secure the dignity and equality of girls. Violence, early marriage and harmful traditional practices continue to stop girls from realising their rights and achieving their full potential. Today is an important reminder of holding governments accountable for developing appropriate policies, enacting legislation and allocating resources towards the leadership, empowerment and rights of girls. We must inspire a better future for girls worldwide”.

International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900's. It is a day to honour the many women who have advanced the rights for women and girls amidst challenging conditions, celebrate achievements and recommit to future actions in fellowship and solidarity with others. It is therefore important to continue our efforts to end violence, discrimination and rights violations against women and girls and mark this special day for women worldwide.


The World YWCA is a global network of women and young women leading social and economic change in 125 countries. It advocates for peace, justice, human rights and care of the environment, and has been at the forefront of raising the status of women for over a century. The World YWCA develops women's leadership to find local solutions to the global inequalities women face. Each year, it reaches more than 25 million women and girls through work in over 22,000 communities.