Nurain & Simone’s Experience at CSW61


Our expectations upon arriving in New York for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) was that we would get to understand how policies and decisions are made at the high level. What we did not realise was the amount of incredible connections and friendships that we would make across the world.

Thought provoking and challenging questions came up time and time again over the two-day Youth Forum. “Why are men more listened to when they speak?” asked a young Arab woman delegate, “And why do we, as women, listen to them more?” 

It was inspiring to be in a room full of determined young feminists and activists, as well as a much larger group tweeting and posting online participating in conversations around the event. Our individual motivations and missions differed, but our vision for a more inclusive, sustainable, peaceful world was shared. This was particularly powerful for us being a part of the 130 strong delegation of young women from the World YWCA, including over 50 young women.

We heard stories from various speakers about their journey to becoming feminists, allies and overcoming adversity. These speakers covered a range of topics including young women as an economic force, intergenerational leadership, and how to include men and those that identify as men in the fight for equality, as well as break out sessions covering a range of topics. We were fortunate enough to attend sessions on using social media to help spread word of your cause, young womens’ mental health, self defence, and women in STEM.

An interesting observation for us was that despite the purpose of CSW61 being to highlight the need for lifting up women, and hearing the opinions and perspectives of girls, young women and women – there was little space made for attendees at CSW61. At the Youth Forum, a majority of the sessions were panelist or speaker sessions where the over 1000 young people were rarely given the opportunity to engage in discussion.

Recognising this shrinking space for women and NGOs at CSW61, particularly that for young women, the World YWCA launched a social media campaign #youngwomenrise. This was a campaign where young women are photographed sharing a high five with an influential leader. The campaign was raising awareness about SDG5 on gender equality & highlighting the importance of making space for young women.

The most powerful experience of being part of CSW61 was the opportunity to hear and share stories from other girls, young women and women from all over the world. Nurain was invited to be a speaker at the YWCA Taiwan parallel event on tackling misogyny and adverse norms in the workplace and in new media. She spoke alongside three other incredible young women – Raine (YWCA Canada), Kara Brown (CEO of YWCA Scotland), Edith Kemunto (YWCA Kenya), Nicole Thurner (Women’s Federation for World Peace Europe) and Lin Jingyi (a legislator & medical doctor from Taiwan). 

Nurain spoke about being a young woman of colour in New Zealand, the challenge of unconscious bias and the prevalence of misogyny in new media. The idea of combatting #microaggressions was talked about by Kara, and how to fight this with small acts of #microfeminism (check out these hashtags on Twitter!). We were united because of our shared challenges in achieving gender equality across developed and developing nations.

We are privileged to have experienced the workings of international lobbying, and hope to bring back what we have learnt to grassroots movements working for gender equality at home in New Zealand. We hope to connect the work being done in our communities to reclaim the shrinking spaces for us internationally.

Survey of Women in the Waikato


Are you a woman in the Waikato? YWCA of Hamilton wants to hear from you!

The survey will take around ten minutes. All completed responses will go in a prize draw to win a $250 shopping voucher from a retailer of your choice, to be drawn on April 28th 2017.

Media Release: New Executive Officer for Young Women’s Group


Issued 26 March 2017

New Executive Officer for Young Women’s Group

The Young Women’s Christian Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (YWCA A/NZ) welcomes new Executive Officer Alanna Irving, co-founder of Loomio.

“Alanna comes to us with an amazing background in social entrepreneurship and operations and we’re incredibly pleased to have her,” says YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand Co-President Nive Sharat-Chandran.

“I agree,” says Co-President Sina Wendt Moore. “We’re honoured to be in a position to support a new leader for our organisation, at a time when young women’s leadership is needed to bring about change.”

“Originally from San Francisco, I’ve lived in several different countries before settling in Wellington over six years ago,” says new Executive Officer YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand Alanna Irving.

“My professional background is a real mixed bag, from working as a translator in Japan, to volunteering in India, to working in IT in the City of London.

“While I bring skills in business and technology, I’m new to the NGO sector, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from the YWCA community.

“I’m so pleased to be coming on as Executive Officer for the YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand and I’m looking forward to supporting all the amazing work that YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand does,” says Irving.



For more information or to schedule an interview please contact:

Nive Sharat Chandran – +64 21 0223 0432 or


More info on Alanna Irving:

Five years ago, Alanna co-founded Loomio, a decision-making app for groups who want to work collaboratively, and has been active in the social entrepreneurship space with organisations like Enspiral and Lifehack. Through all these different experiences, community, collaboration, social justice, diversity, and empowerment (especially for women!) have been consistent themes.

While Alanna gets excited about big ideas, her real passion is operations – all the hands-on practicalities behind getting things done. Alanna loves optimising processes, facilitating great meetings, and improving communication. See more details on her website.

About the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand,

YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is part of a global YWCA network spanning 120 countries. The organisation is dedicated to providing leadership opportunities for young women with a mandate stating 25 percent of its board must be women under 30 years of age.

The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand supports individual and community change by empowering women, especially young women, to develop and exercise their individual and collective leadership through enhancing their spiritual, physical, mental and cultural well-being. We are committed to addressing all forms of oppression, so that women may together attain social and economic justice.

Recruiting for our new Executive Officer


Executive Officer, YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand

– Self motivated leadership role for a national women’s organisation
– Serve the needs of young women in Aotearoa
– Work part time from home, in either Auckland or Wellington


Are you passionate about supporting young New Zealand women to be the best they can be?

The YWCA is part of a global movement, working in 101 countries promoting justice and women’s empowerment. In New Zealand, the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is the national body for the YWCA movement, linking local organisations with the World YWCA.

This new part-time fixed term position has been established to support the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand (YWCA of A/NZ) Board in its governance role, including implementing the Board’s strategic goals, and to manage the day to day operations of the organisation.

2017 marks 110 years of the YWCA in New Zealand – we seek a passionate and highly motivated individual, with proven management skills and a record of building strong relationships to assist with our work nationally.

Responsibilities of this new position include the development of the annual business plan to operationalise our strategic goals; managing the administrative and financial requirements of the organisation; assisting to develop and implement annual fundraising plans and apply for grant funding; managing internal and external communications; and maintaining working relationships with key partners and stakeholders.

Upon appointment, you will be able to review the board’s proposed operating and resourcing models and recruit administrative and project support to best fit the annual plan, your skill set and location. A full position description for this role is available at

The initial term for this role is 12 months for 25 hours per week. Applicants must include a CV and covering letter, received by email before Friday 27 January 2017, 12noon to Late applications may not be accepted.

Only people with the right to work in New Zealand may apply for this position.

Call for Expressions of Interest – YWCA A/NZ Advocacy Programme


Understanding that as an historic organisation YWCA that has been serving women in Aotearoa for more than 100 years, is a key organisation for empowering young women in our country;

And; that the YWCA A/NZ attracts a high calibre of women of all ages who share a common goal to empower other young women in their communities;

And; that part of the YWCA’s ability to empower young women is to effect positive change for them through advocacy.

The YWCA A/NZ Board believes it is important that we begin to foster young women activists, to bring them to the international platform early so that they can continue to influence change for their generation and the next.

At the same time, it is also important that the young women that represent our organisation have an understanding and appreciation for the advocacy process and receive training.

In consideration of the cost to attend an international forum such as UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Board believes that it is also important that the young women who attend do more than observe, but actively engage themselves with the process.

Considering that there has been a shortage of young women from Aotearoa represented at CSW, the Board believes that it would be of value to have our representatives present research that pertains to issues facing young women in Aotearoa and fitting within the CSW priority theme in order to make sure the issues facing our women are heard.

Consequent to the above, the Board of YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand would like to:

  1. provide young women within the YWCA A/NZ network the opportunity to develop their advocacy skills, harness those skills and exercise them within an international context for the promotion and advancement of gender equality for all our women within Aotearoa and the wider Pacific.
  2. provide the opportunity for participants from YWCA A/NZ to engage and build meaningful relationships with World YWCA and other YWCA’s from across the world.

If you would like to be involved with the YWCA ANZ Advocacy programme we would like to hear from you. Your expression of interest needs to include:

  • a current CV including two referees;
  • a basic fundraising plan (no more than one page) and;
  • a precis (no more than two pages) of a piece of research you would like to present at CSW61.  This piece of research would need to fit the priority theme, however, if you feel that the review theme or emerging issue warrants a presentation via a side or parallel event at CSW61, please do communicate that to us so that we can consider this option.

Please forward your expression of interest to before 2 November 2016.

Successful applicants who will attend CSW will need to be able to actively fundraise for most of your travel/accommodation costs. YWCA A/NZ will make a small contribution towards your costs and travel insurance. They will also need a current passport and entry visa to the U.S. (costs to be covered by participant).

For more information, please contact YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand to discuss. 

The priority theme for CSW61 is Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. The review theme is Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls (agreed conclusions of the 58th session); and the emerging issue/focus area is the empowerment of indigenous women.

How far we have to go to achieve gender equality


Following on from July’s series of negative news stories demonstrating how far we have to go to achieve gender equality, NCWNZ asked several different member organisations and commentators for their take on events.

The YWCA’s contribution to the discussion is below, published in The Circular by NCWNZ, September 2016.


What did you think of the events last week/month?

The events last month remind us again of what a judgmental society we live in. There is so much victim blaming and the trials – horrible for the victim that you can see why some people just don’t do anything about it. We are so lenient on sports people.

It reflects the double standard and inherent order of a legacy patriarchal society. Where the same issue can have very different judgment; depending on the person’s gender. Other people’s values are being placed on others, and sometimes deemed the lesser without an appreciation or understanding of the circumstances they can lead to certain choices. We just wish that women in New Zealand would be safe to make the decisions that they want to, and that if anything bad did happen, they wouldn’t face the blame and discrimination that they do – as some did last month.

What is driving this?

It is ingrained in our culture. As young women, we feel we have to be so careful when we go out – so you don't end up in some sort of situation where you are going to be taken advantage of. It is upsetting to have to even think this way – we should be safe in Aotearoa.

How do we change it – today and tomorrow?

We need to start early, and educate young people around what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable behaviour.

If we want truly systemic culture change, education needs to start at primary school level and up. It can be as early as preschool – stop telling girls that when a boy hits her it’s because he likes her; instead tell both of them that it isn’t an acceptable way to behave. This is a slow process, but a lot of the work that is being done today like education in schools and various family violence campaigns are a good start. The better campaigns give people skills and tools to stand up to others when they hear sexist comments.

We need to question the narrative we get told. Women are degraded on a daily basis, and very few stand up publically for anybody when people make inappropriate comments. Let’s not be afraid of what everyone will think if we make a stand for what is actually right.

Just because you read about someone in the news, you don’t get to objectify them. It’s about humanizing the concepts and reminding people we are all humans too. The same way that you hurt, they hurt too.

We need to stand up and speak out when people aren’t being respectful.

Sexism is something that can be best addressed by ‘mates holding other mates’ accountable – but they need to want to do this and know how to. We need to see people standing up for each other more – if the example is set by the majority, then our generations to come will follow it; they are our future.

Media Release: YWCA seeks quick adoption of Pay Equity Principles

Issued 07 June 2016
YWCA seeks quick adoption of Pay Equity Principles
The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the release of recommendations of the Working Group on Pay Equity Principles.
Sina Wendt-Moore, YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand Co-President says she “looks forward to the government working quickly to adopt the principles to help women, especially young women,”
“With over 60% of graduates being women, but earning 6-8% less than their male counterparts in the first year of working, we need these principles to be adopted.”
The YWCA  is committed on creating, supporting and promoting the skills and confidence for young women to establish, retain and build (make, keep and grow) economic self-reliance. They support initiatives to increase the income of women, including policies that raise the minimum wage and strengthen equal pay.
“It’s a blight on our nation when after 45 years of legislation our young women are still disempowered in this way,” says Wendt-Moore.
About the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand
YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand is part of a global YWCA network spanning 120 countries. The organisation is dedicated to providing leadership opportunities for young women with a mandate stating 25 percent of its board must be women under 30 years of age.
The YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand supports individual and community change by empowering women, especially young women, to develop and exercise their individual and collective leadership through enhancing their spiritual, physical, mental and cultural well-being. We are committed to addressing all forms of oppression, so that women may together attain social and economic justice.

Leadership changes at YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand


We are pleased to welcome the following leaders onto our board, and to help run our operations:
Awhimai Reynolds was elected as Treasurer at our AGM this month, along with Cath Lomax as a new board member. Both women were previously co-opted by the Board in September last year.

To demonstrate a commitment to young women’s leadership, our board constitutionally must include at least 25% young women and two Maori wahine. We are pleased to note with you that we have met our policy, and also have room to co-opt other members during the year for additional skills.

During our AGM, we agreed collectively to concentrate on two key strategic initiatives in our plan – research and data analysis & and national brand development (1.1 and 1.2).

Vanisa Dhiru has been appointed at General Manager (Acting) for the next 9 months to assist developing these strategic initiatives at a national level. Vanisa has given many years of service to the YWCA of Greater Wellington, and understands our organisation well from her own early leadership journey with us.

Vanisa will act as our key contact for operational work for YWCA A/NZ, and is based in Wellington.

We are pleased to welcome Awhimai, Cath and Vanisa as YWCA leaders, and seek to keep you updated every few months with progress on our initiatives.

Nga mihi mahana
Sina Wendt-Moore & Nive Sharat Chandran

Co-Presidents’ Message


We are sad to announce that Steph Fink has resigned from her role as General Manager of the YWCA AotearoaNZ for professional reasons.

The Board acknowledges her significant contribution and service to the YWCA movement in AotearoaNZ. In the last 5 years our organisation has faced challenges and undergone much change and Steph has provided stability to the organisation, and supported the Board in the setting the new strategic direction.

We really value and appreciate her calm, thoughtful, and supportive approach, and the commitment she has shown to progressing the YWCA’s vision for young women in this country. We wish her all the very best for the future. Steph’s last day with the YWCA will be the 4th of May.

For any queries in the meantime, you can contact either of us on the main YWCA contact details (telephone 04 384 8117 or email, and of course you are welcome to email or phone us directly (details below).


Sina Wendt-Moore & Nive Sharat-Chandran

Young YWCA leader elected to global governing body


Nive speaks at World Council Oct 2015

Young New Zealand woman Nive Sharat Chandran was recently elected as Vice President of the World YWCA Board.  The elections were held at the World YWCA Council which meets every four years and this year was in Bangkok, Thailand.

At just 24, Ms Sharat Chandran has already held a variety of leadership roles and is currently Co-President of the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“New Zealand needs women as decision-makers and leaders, particularly young women, in fact the world does, and I’m proud to represent Aotearoa on the world stage,” says Ms Sharat Chandran.

Nive speaks at World Council Oct 2015

Nive speaks at World Council Oct 2015

“As an organisation we lead the way in developing the leaders of today and tomorrow by creating opportunities for young women to be leaders.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of being part of the team leading social and economic change in over 120 countries worldwide, reaching 25 million women and girls.

“Being goal driven means that in twenty years time, I will be able, hand on heart know that I have given my all to the goal of 100 million young women and girls transforming power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war.

“Critically, I am excited to be part of leading a sustainable YWCA movement by being bold and transformative and inclusive of all women.”

The YWCA of Aotearoa NZ has a commitment to board diversity, with 40% young women directors, as well as Maori, Pacific and Asian representation. We are also the only YWCA board globally that operates an inter-generational Co-Presidency model – something we advocated for at World Council.

YWCA Aotearoa delegation to World Council Oct 2015

“As co-president of YWCA Aotearoa NZ I am looking forward to the global governance role as well as using the global work to guide our purpose and work here,” says Ms Sharat Chandran.


Media contact:

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Steph Fink, YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand General Manager on 027 235 0552 or Nive Sharat Chandran on 021 0223 0432

Many thanks to all our funders, without their support we could not provide the important services we do.

  • Perpetual Guardian Trust Lottery Grants

YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand

+64 4 384 8117