A New Vision and Mission for the YWCA
To represent our commitment to inclusion and to help inspire our community, we are excited to announce a new vision and mission for YWCA Metro Vancouver:
We boldly envision a just and equitable world for women, families and allies.
We advance gender equity alongside women, families, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people through advocacy and integrated services that help support personal, collective and economic wellbeing.
At the YWCA, our priorities are to ensure that we are inclusive, respectful and remain relevant to the people we serve. We seek to be low-barrier and we take direction from lived experience, evidence-based research and front-line workers who report on who they see walking through our doors. In the past few years, we have seen more gender diverse people seeking services in all areas of our work, from youth programs to employment to health and fitness.
In 2020, the YWCA launched a new strategic plan that identified four key priorities to guide our current work: advocacy and awareness; housing; truth and reconciliation; and gender.
Including gender as a priority was two-fold, as the YWCA’s vision has long been to achieve women’s equality. However, the understanding of gender has changed, which has implications on how we think about our work, and about equality. What we have come to understand is that gender equity is the vision that best describes what we want our work to achieve.
An equitable society is one in which resources are distributed according to people’s needs, interests and experiences. Providing all people with the same support is not helpful, when those people face different barriers.
And so, we have work to do to move our efforts on gender forward. We have also made some progress. As outlined in our strategic plan, we have been working with staff on a gender inclusion committee, which aims to better support Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, gender diverse and LGBTQ2S+ people. The committee has audited organizational structures and practices and made recommendations to support gender inclusion. Internally we conducted a service audit and heard from staff about gaps in support and understanding. It is clear that supporting gender diverse people is an area in which we have room to learn and grow.
We also engaged Bakau Consulting, led by Cicely Blain, to support our equity, diversity and inclusion journey. Cicely and their team have conducted employee and stakeholder surveys, led staff training and will be consultants in our forthcoming strategic plan. We look forward to sharing more about this work over the coming months.
At the governance level, we engaged the YWCA Board of Directors through learning sessions with guest speakers and asked them to review our mission and vision in light of what they learned. In December 2021, they enthusiastically approved this new direction for the organization.
Our new vision and mission enable us to be strategic and intentional in building a plan that allows us to provide safe and holistic support for people facing gender inequity. As always, we will work with YWCA staff through this transition to ensure they have the skills and knowledge they need to do their work safely and respectfully.
Moving forward, we will still focus on women and families, but we recognize that others also experience gender inequity. This work will require thoughtful, sometimes challenging, but always meaningful conversations. We will move carefully and make sure we are listening to and learning from people with lived experience, our larger YWCA community and organizations who already serve gender diverse people.
Over the last 125 years that the YWCA has been serving this community, the organization has taken important, sometimes challenging steps into a shifting and uncertain future. We remain strong knowing that an equitable and just world is achievable. And we look forward to working alongside you on this path.
To be an ally is to unite oneself with another to promote a common interest – in this case, gender equity. We use this term to be inclusive of all people who experience gender inequity and welcoming of those who do not.
The vehicle by which the YWCA influences and supports policy, informs public opinion and works in collaboration with government, business and community leaders and organizations to create systemic change. Our advocacy is informed by frontline experience, credible research, and in collaboration with the people we serve.
To distribute/receive resources according to people’s needs, interests and experiences in order to achieve equal opportunities and outcomes. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to help make things more equal.
Describes the spectrum of gender and gender expression, that gender identity is non-binary and includes intersex people, gender non-conforming people, trans people of all genders, and people with non-binary gender identities. The understanding of gender diversity and the language to describe it are evolving and may need to be revised and updated regularly.
We recognize that without access to safe, affordable housing, early learning and child care and opportunities for education, training and meaningful employment, women are unlikely to achieve personal and economic wellbeing. We consider our programs to be integrated because they work holistically to support people in multiple aspects of their lives.
Describes an outcome where the treatment of individuals is guided by fairness, honesty and integrity. Justice may refer to equitable distribution of resources and opportunities in decision-making, allowing for fair outcomes for everyone.
The recognition that systems which dictate behavior and expectations in society – capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism, for example – are designed to keep some people oppressed and must be examined and re-designed in order for all people to achieve freedom and personal prosperity.
A term used within some Indigenous communities, encompassing cultural, spiritual, sexual and gender identity. The term is attributed to Elder Myra Laramee, who proposed its use during the Third Annual Inter-Tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference, held in Winnipeg in 1990. Two-Spirit reflects complex Indigenous understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and the long history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures. Not all Indigenous people who hold diverse sexual and gender identities consider themselves Two-Spirit.
A state that is achieved when personal goals of health, happiness, prosperity, and safety are met.
Any person who self-identifies as such, which may include cisgender women, transgender women and other diverse expressions of gender. The YWCA is committed to evolving the organization’s understanding of gender, its intersections, and to be inclusive beyond a simple gender binary (male/female).