During my time as the Young women’s coordinator at the World YWCA, I had the honor and privilege to travel to New Delhi and meet sisters from the Asia region YWCAs. I was fascinated by their zeal, passion and the thread that kept them in solidarity; that is, their faith and belief that young women are leaders today as they will be tomorrow. One particular young woman I met was the President of YWCA Guwahati, Assam, India and her name is Upasana Bordoloi. When I had this conversation with Upasana, I realized that she’s a leader who is determined to leave a mark and a legacy for the young women in her community. Her journey started when she would escort her grandmother to the local YWCA. She has been there for over a decade now and she serves as one of the youngest Presidents in the movement as a whole, as she’s 28 years young. As a volunteer, when she started, she was exposed to a lot of activities and trainings and quickly realised the need for serious business like board meetings to retain transparency and accountability in execution. That is when she took time to learn the YWCA constitution and take up opportunities to join the National Board of the YWCA of India. She worked as a Board Member for 6 years and had taken roles of chairing programmes including the Internship. Today, she serves as the President of her local association and this goes to show us that there is no shame in starting ‘small’!
” I have learnt that with power and position comes responsibility and the call of duty to the movement is louder and more urgent than before,” she frankly emphasised. Upon accepting her role as local President, her responsibility has doubled as she still does the normal volunteer duties she committed to in the YWCA. For me, this was a ‘wow‘ moment because there it shows that Young women are still willing to pursue causes they care about, even on a volunteer basis. However, there are times when she asks herself whether she is doing justice to the call of duty because being the youngest President in the history of her association comes with its complexities! But she holds on to the promise of the Lord that it will be His Spirit that shall enable her with the strength, wisdom and love to deliver. So even if success and peace seem distant at times, with this faith and prayer, she has been able to work and not lose sight.
When it comes to positional leadership within the YWCA, she is a strong champion for more young women to be YWCA staff members and have a higher representation of young women in decision making processes. However, it becomes a task to fulfill the expectation once young women occupy these spaces due to several issues, including: inter-generational clashes, constrained self-care, market inflation which pulls young educated women out of the movement into other lucrative sectors and being a christian minority. In a Hindu country like India where backlash against minorities are rampant now leading to even deaths of many missionaries and crackdown on churches and International Non-Governmental Organisations, taking the movement forward is an actual risk for safety!
As our conversation came to a close and I was mesmerized by her courage and confidence, she talked about an issue that I too believe in, and that is being accountable to our community by giving back through sharing all the exposure you have gained. She beautifully wrapped up the conversation as thus,
” In a movement like the YWCA which has so many opportunities for young women, we are accountable in a way to respond to those and in turn pass on the beacon to those who need enlightenment. The trained young women must create the ‘ripple effect’ to share our experiences and training to those who have missed it. It is very important for young women in today’s fast track world to STILL make time for a movement which stands for them. The things that have become a regular part of our lives, like honorable working hours, overtime compensation, equal pay, personal rights etc. have all come through a history of struggle and still have not been fully reached. That should remind us of our responsibility to continuously negotiate and navigate these spaces. That is why it is upon young women in the world today to support this legacy by taking it forward in all earnest,”.