Then and Now

The year 2016 will mark the 100th Anniversary of YWCA Clark County. What began as a lunch counter for working women has evolved to become a force of empowerment and safety for women, children and families in our community.

From our earliest days at the turn of the century, women used grassroots activism in advocating for the rights of women as workers, wives, mothers and citizens. As a formal organization associated with an International service organization, YWCA Clark County played a critical role in promoting women’s rights in the workplace, and has been at the forefront of the civil rights movement since the 1960’s.

Nationally, the origins of YWCA began in New York in the 1800’s under the moniker Young Women’s Christian Association. While the religious affiliations of YWCA are a thing of the past, from the start YWCA has always been motivated by the desire to serve others. Here are just a few highlights (taken from YWCA USA’s website):

1860-YWCA opened the first boarding house for female factory workers, teachers, students.

1889-The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio.

1890-The first YWCA for Native American women opened at the Haworth Institute in Chilocco, Okla.

1906-The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming.

1934-The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African Americans’ basic civil rights.

1942-The YWCA extended its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers.

1946-Interracial Charter was adopted by the 17th National YWCA Convention, establishing that “wherever there is injustice on the basis of race, whether in the community, the nation, or the world, our protest must be clear and our labor for its removal, vigorous and steady.

1970-The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative: “To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary.”

1970-YWCA convention voted to emphasize the importance of repealing laws restricting or prohibiting abortions performed by a duly licensed physician.

1995-The YWCA Week Without Violence was created to united people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October.

During its tenure, YWCA time and time again established itself as an organization that you could trust if you were a minority or oppressed population. One that has continued to empower women, fight racism and advocate for social justice. YWCA of Clark County is honored to have played a part in that legacy, and our own timeline shows some of the amazing steps we have taken since our inception to make the dream of equality more of a reality in our own community.

Today, we look forward to all the possibilities the next hundred years hold for YWCA Clark County, we stop to take pride in our continued ability to adapt and respond to an ever-changing society. We have developed innovative programs to strengthen the mind, body and spirit for those suffering from abuse and oppression. We have achieved so much and impacted hundreds of thousands of people throughout our history.

We must also look ahead to the work still needed to fully empower women, eliminate racism, violence and oppression in Clark County. We must rededicate ourselves to the mission of our organization and find new ways to engage the community in our efforts. Through an increased presences and engagement on social media, we will become an authoritative voice on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, inequality, and empowerment. We will continue to fight on all fronts for social justice. We will show up through advocacy, political activism, and staying engaged and informed of current events that affect women and minorities not only in our own community, but throughout the world. Peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. These are the words at the heart of our mission. These are the words we want people to think of when they hear YWCA.