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Celebrating global change for young women at a local level


18 April 2017

Media Release

Celebrating global change for young women at a local level

World YWCA Day on Monday 24 April not only brings to the fore the positive global contribution made by YWCA, but also marks a life changing local milestone for young kiwi girls and women.

The Auckland YWCA is proud to be part of the world’s largest women’s organisation. The network of over 25 million women leads social and economic change in over 125 countries worldwide.

The Auckland YWCA plays an integral part in the network and has a proud legacy of offering free programmes that provide positive outcomes for young women.

This year, one of their most successful programmes, YWCA Auckland Future Leaders Programme is celebrating 15 years of helping young women (aged 14-18 years), from low decile schools, to develop their leadership skills and confidence.

Founded in 2002 by the then CEO, Di Paton, the programme has helped 800 young women, grow into confident, capable, educated women who it is hoped will become female leaders of tomorrow.

Di Paton said; “I set up the programme because I was concerned there were so many young women in vulnerable areas who were lacking in resources and goals in life. It seemed a terrible waste of potential to me and I wanted to find a way to give them a start and help them to make progress in the world. I distinctly remember one young woman’s response, when I spoke to her about going to university, she replied “People like me don’t go to university.” This really drove me on to create a programme that would challenge that type of self-belief.

“My goal was always to have the programme continue, even after I passed over the management reigns. It’s wonderful to see the programme running successfully after 15 years, and I feel privileged to have played some small part in that. The team who have kept the momentum going have done an amazing job.

“I feel like the programme has significantly improved the lives of individual young women, however as a society I think there is a lot of work still to be done, especially in vulnerable suburbs, to encourage young women to reach their full leadership potential.”

The four-year emerging leadership and mentoring programme connects young women on the brink of adulthood with mentors who have the understanding, know- how, compassion and experience to help them achieve their own success.

Mary-Kate Fonua (18 yrs old), is a shining example of how the programme helps recognise potential in young women and encourage them to achieve their goals. In 2016 the Deputy Head Girl from Mt Roskill Grammar School was awarded the prestigious Future Leader of the Year Award.

Mary-Kate said; “The Future Leaders Programme has helped me become more confident and I have been given opportunities that I would never have had before walking into the YWCA. I’ve learned you can do anything if you work hard and I have been taught to believe in myself.”

Monica Briggs, CEO, YWCA Auckland, said; “Celebrating the success over 15 years of our Leadership Programme really reflects our local contribution to YWCA’s global theme this year of Rise Up! Support and Invest in Young Women’s Rights.

“We are incredibly proud of the achievements of all of our programme graduates. Over the last fifteen years we have been blessed with many amazing mentors who really put their heart and soul into helping these young women. Without the mentors, we would not have been able run such a successful programme.”

“We know New Zealand needs more female leaders in all areas of business and the community. Our goal for the future is to continue to instil confidence and life skills into these young women and help to create the next generation of female leaders bringing about positive change in their own lives and that of their communities.”

85% of the programmes graduates go on to further education (many are the first in their family to do so), which is a real testament to the ongoing success of the programme.

-Ends-

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