Hong Kong YWCA 100th Anniversary International Conference synergised professional insights to build a better world
YWCA hosted an international conference in December with the theme “Solidarity for a Better World” to inherit the past and usher in the future and celebrate her 100th anniversary. The conference invited representatives from the United Nations and World YWCA, scholars, women leaders, social welfare leaders to speak about gender equality, women empowerment, evangelical work, social innovation and technology etc., in order to build a better world.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Association hosted a virtual conference for the first time. By God’s grace, the event was a great success with over 840 participants from Hong Kong and 15 other countries and regions, including YWCAs in Asian regions such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, and also participants from Australia, Canada, America etc.
Keynote Speeches: The Power of Women
Mr. Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific was one of the guest speakers in the keynote session. He pointed out that the United Nations has been committed to improving gender equality. However, there are still injustices towards women all around the world, including women being ignored, less favorable terms of employment, domestic violence etc. He hoped that by women standing in solidarity, we can jointly improve the situation and develop a better world.
Another keynote speaker, Ms. Mira Rizeq, President of World YWCA believed that the world can be bettered by advocating solidarity of women. Although many young women are facing marginalisation and discrimination, Ms. Rizeq emphasized that “they have the power to make changes. There are greater chances for women to become decision makers and we should all take actions to learn and to change, and that shapes a better world.”
Plenary Session: Women as Change Maker
In the plenary session, Ms. Casey Harden, General Secretary of World YWCA, raised her concerns on women being treated unfairly during the outbreak of COVID-19. For example, women have higher risk of losing their jobs and being underpaid. Women as the change maker should have the courage to stand up and respond to the current situation.
Dr. Lixi Zhang, Vice-President of the Chinese Women’s Research Society, listed examples from China to illustrate how local women organisations elevate women’s status and improve their rights by conducting thoughtful researches and convincing the government with significant findings in order to advocate policy and legal reform.
Parallel Session: From Christianity to social innovation
Guest speakers were invited to share their views in different parallel sessions based on their expertise. Ms. Fiona Nott, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation, analysed the workplace culture in Hong Kong and found that over 50% of the employers are not willing to hire women with children, and women suffer from a 20% less pay gap than their male counterparts. Ms. Annie Chen, Managing Director and Head of Digital Banking and Personal Segment, HK in Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited used her company as an example to explain how empowering women in the workplace benefits the company.
Ms. Yvonne Yeung, Hong Kong YWCA’s Chief Executive referred to the services of the Association to talk about the core value of YWCA Movement. Ms. Heather Smith Xie, Director of Advancement of Outward Bound Hong Kong shared her family story over five generations, in which everyone served young women because of Christian faith. Prof. Natalie Chan, Director of Ray Bakke Centre for Urban Transformation, pointed out New York is a good example to demonstrate preaching in the city will be the new trend under urbanisation.
Ms. Shalini Mahtani, MBE, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of the Zubin Mahtani Gidumal Foundation Limited shared her insights on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Women in the community face early school dropout and marriage at a young age in order to lessen the financial burden of the family during COVID-19. Ms. Frances Crimmins, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Canberra mentioned that some people enjoy privileges by tradition, which leads to gender inequality in Canberra. She also elaborated how she hosted leaders’ meetings to bring learning opportunities to local young women. Ms. Mimi Han, Vice-President of World YWCA & Executive Board Member of National YWCA of Korea encouraged intergenerational leadership. She suggested people to think out of box and listen to the younger generation so as to understand what the society truly needs.
Dr. Chi Hing Kee, J.P. Chairperson of Fullness Social Enterprise Society shared the huge social impact obtained by cooperation among organisations. Ms. Natalie Chan, Managing Director of PIE Strategy Limited quoted Our Hong Kong Foundation’s “Big Little Things” project to remind members of the social welfare sector that cross-sector collaboration can be a solution to many problems. Ms. Grace Man-yee Chan, Business Director of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and Dr. Bill Yuk-piu Tsang, Director of Research of Youth Global Network agreed that the use of technology, no matter for youth or elders, will be essential in the future.
In order to echo the theme of the conference, we gathered YWCAs in Asian regions to record and produce a video for the hymn “Give Thanks”, which truly demonstrates the solidarity in YWCA Movement. The video is available below, together with the welcoming remarks by Ms. Helena To, the Association's President, the closing remarks by Ms. May Wong, the Association's Third Vice-President and Chairperson of the Organizing Committeefor the 100th Anniversary International Conference, and a video which features the service development of Hong Kong YWCA and Women’s Movement.
Welcoming remarks by Ms. Helena To, the Association's President
Closing remarks by Ms. May Wong, the Association’s Third Vice-President and Chairperson of the Organizing Committee for the 100th Anniversary International Conference
Service development of Hong Kong YWCA and Women’s Movement