A LIFE-CHANGING experience.
That’s how a young Kirkcaldy woman described her first visit to the YWCA’s World Conference in Zurich recently.
And Rachael O’Byrne, the Kirkcaldy YW’s development officer, said the five days spent with around 1000 delegates from almost every country in the world, had inspired her to get more girls and young women from the town involved in the organisation.
“So many people just don’t realise the opportunities which being involved in the YW could open up for them,” she said.
Rachael (25), attended the conference in the Swiss city as a voting delegate, along with Kinghorn girl Kirsty Kelly (27), who is already on the world board and was elected as one of six world vice presidents for the next four years.
This was Rachael’s first experience of the global event, which she described as “an amazing experience”.
“There were so many inspirational women there who are all really working hard to change the lives of women around the world in everything from human rights to HIV and Aids, and to be a part of that was fantastic.
“I got a really good view of what is happening in the world, and although I consider myself fairly well up on world issues, I still got my eyes opened by some of the speakers.
“I took part in workshops and a young women’s dialogue day, planning our strategy for the next four years which will involve inter-generational leadership between older and younger members of the YMCA working together on everything from social, economic, political and cultural issues involving women.
“It was all really interesting and good to see that despite the differences in the countries and cultures, there are lots of similarities in the issues we are dealing with.
“It has made me think that I would like to take the opportunity to get more people from Kirkcaldy involved in this work.”
Kirsty, who has worked her way up through the YWCA since the age of seven, said she was honoured to be elected as a vice president.
She said: “I look forward to the challenge of my new position over the next four years and especially to taking forward our new focus on inter-generational leadership as well as ensuring that young women’s voices are heard at all levels within our global movement.
“World Council in Zurich was an amazing experience, and my highlights, as well as being elected vice president of an organisation I truly love and wholeheartedly believe in, was being asked to sing at the closing of the council which was overwhelming, but also amazing.”