Victoria joined the World YWCA in 2018 with her understanding of finance and accounting. She applies her experience in a start-up based environment from her education in USA on business and entrepreneurship.
She moved to Switzerland in 2015, learned French and now considers the chocolate country her new home. She enjoys reading, is a fitness geek and a total foodie. The causes of stopping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), human trafficking and forced child marriage are close to her heart. She has with her a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.
Read more about her work at World YWCA, what keeps her going and what inspires her every day:
Working in the operations and finance side of one of the oldest women’s rights movement, how has been your experience of working in the world of gender equality?
Working in Finance and Operations at the World YWCA office translates to a lot of work! Work that contributes to demonstrate good governance, transparency and systematic management of the organisation. We have lots of audits every year and all of them are extremely important. It is thanks to our regular audits that we can assess compliance and accountability. This work comes also with lots of strict deadlines that can only be fulfilled with team work and with constant communication with colleagues, member associations, partners, supporters and providers. On the operations side, I am one of the main contact points for YWCA member associations who want to talk about their affiliation fees, project financial reporting or who wants to speak Portuguese. Being the only Portuguese speaker in the World Office, I frequently manage communication in that language, translating it to English or French to my colleagues.
You were a key participant of the safe spaces project the World YWCA initiated with IKEA. What do you feel is core for offices to be safe spaces everywhere around the world?
Interesting question! Life is not a safe space. We are constantly bombarded with things that we do not agree with or that might offend us; it’s part of being alive and it makes us grow. An office space needs to offer an environment where the employees feel valued but not entirely shielded (our critical thinking has to be always active!). The IKEA project was a great experience because it gave me that exact feeling. With the support of Liz Nash, our staff team of young women met on regular basis with designers from Ikea to discuss our vision on our work space and how we could improve and optimise it.
All the exchange I had with my team members during the project was honest and dynamic. We might not have agreed on everything but we listened to each other and were able to compromise and find an agreement on what would be good and functional for everyone.
You are a Brazilian who moved to Switzerland. The World YWCA staff is a very diverse group in itself. What according to you is the advantage of working with diverse groups?
The advantage has to be the different perspectives. People with different backgrounds tackle problems in different ways and there’s a lot to learn from that. Diversity in the team may bring rich points of view with incredible nuances of human experience and culture. It allows us to learn from one another.
“We know you love reading. Which author has recently inspired you and helped you as a feminist?”
I do A-D-O-R-E reading! Ayaan Hirsi Ali is my reference when I think of women’s rights. Born in Somalia, Ayaan went through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and years of physical abuse until the moment she ran away to escape from an arranged marriage. She applied for asylum in the Netherlands, learned Dutch and studied while working nights cleaning for others until she made it to University and became a politician in the Netherlands. Ayaan Hirsi Ali worked a lot to make people pay attention to FGM happening in Dutch soil denouncing the situation at Parliament. Her activism against the cultural habits that shelters this awful practice got her serious death threats and a colleague murdered. Due to that she fled to the United Stated (US) where today she holds a foundation that aims to end FGM in the US.
What drives you every day to work? What keeps you going?
To get the job done! Seeing all delegates meet to discuss budgets and the affiliation fee formula at World YWCA Council 2019 in South Africa made me see the greater picture of all the work that happens backstage in Finance. All those tables, graphs and numbers people see in the reports, newsletters and presentations are the result of countless hours of work of the Finance team.
I am also responsible for the physical space in which we work, which sometimes can be a handful!
Ensuring my colleagues are comfortable with all their work material also keeps me going.