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Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda: Farewell Message

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda: Farewell Message

Dear sisters and friends!

It is with mixed feelings that I write to you today on my last official day as General Secretary of the World YWCA. It has been an incredible journey over the past eight years and eight months.  I feel so privileged to have served the movement and to have collaborated so closely with my sisters and friends all over the world during my service in this role.

We have accomplished so much together in protecting and promoting women’s rights, in fostering women’s—and especially young women’s—leadership, and in starting to take steps to strengthen the sustainability of our movement.  We’ve reached a point where we truly are a movement for young women run by young women, with 60% of our World Board age 30 and under.

Together, we have defined our bold and transformative goal to 2035, enabling us to assert young women’s leadership, daring to addressing the underlying and structural causes of inequality, and inspiring us to live in a world free of violence. We remain clear that the sustainability of our work, our institutions and our movement is critical, especially for people and the planet. We have restated our foundational values of rights, faith, respect and diversity. And my Christian faith gives me great hope for our continued success as together we work toward our Envisioning 2035 goal.

We’ve created a platform for youth, and especially young women, to participate in major international events such as UN Commission on the Status of Women (UN-CSW) and UN Human Rights Council. And we’ve tackled many sensitive and taboo topics at the national level—from advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, and working to prevent racism, to insisting that women have a place at the table at negotiations for peace and security in situations of conflict.

Working collaboratively with many partners, we placed the issue of ending child, early and forced “marriage”, a modern form of slavery, on the global and regional agendas. We’ve also played a major role in encouraging the African Union to adopt a common position to end child, early and forced marriage. I am honoured to continue this work in my role as AU Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage.

We will always face difficulties, whether that’s trying to keep our programmes running in conflict areas, raising enough funds to tackle a crisis or dealing with the conservative political movement that seems to be sweeping the world. But I have great confidence in you as a movement of women and young women changing power structures. We must deepen our focus on economic empowerment and climate justice as we embrace the power of technology. 

As we move forward, I have great confidence in the World YWCA Leadership Team, with Sara Lllort acting as the Interim General Secretary as well as in our World Board, under President Dr. Deborah Thomas-Austin, who together will continue to set the path for success. And I would ask that you give them your full support, especially during the transition period to a new General Secretary.

It has truly been a blessing for me to serve this extraordinary movement, surrounded by such committed members, partners, donors and friends. Many of you have opened your doors to me in your countries and your homes. We have prayed together and broken bread together, cried and laughed together, in the unwavering search for rights, justice, equality and dignity. I will forever be grateful to the YWCA staff team and volunteers, as each in their own way brought meaning and understanding of my YWCA and my external world. Indeed, for the gift of a supportive family, I am forever grateful.

While there is a season for everything, under the heavens and earth, we know the true essence of this movement, once a YWCA always a YWCA. Our paths will surely meet again. For those of you who would like to stay in touch, you can always reach me through my private email:

In love and peace,


Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

General Secretary, World YWCA

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