Transformative Moments in Chennai: A Personal Narrative of the 1st Gender Equity Forum & 21st General Assembly of APAY

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Transformative Moments in Chennai: A Personal Chronicle of the 1st Gender Equity Forum & 21st General Assembly of Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

By Everest Enjoy Marandi

National Council of YMCAs of Bangladesh

Change Agent


In the heart of Chennai, India, transformative conferences unfolded, shaping the trajectory of the APAY community. The 1st Gender Equity Forum (GEF) and the 21st General Assembly of APAY were more than gatherings; they were moments of introspection, dialogue, and commitment to building a more inclusive world.

Gender Equity Forum: Unveiling Realities, Proposing Solutions

The Gender Equity Forum was a kaleidoscope of perspectives on gender justice. Stepping into the vibrant discussions, participants grappled with the intricate layers of gender issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The keynote addresses and dissects the challenges through both secular & faith-based lenses to embrace both liberating & inclusive aspects.

Crucially, the forum didn't shy away from confronting the lived reality of diversity & inclusiveness. The light was shed on the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in India, emphasizing the strides in securing their rights. The conversations were raw, honest, and filled with a shared determination to bridge the gap between rhetoric & action.

The affirmations & recommendations that emerged from the GEF were a powerful manifesto for change. The commitment to Vision 2030 & the pillars outlined therein resonated across participants. Everyone echoed a commitment to sustaining momentum in addressing gender-related issues. The push for balanced representation & participation, approval of the Gender Justice Policy, and the development of concrete action plans demonstrated a tangible commitment to creating a more inclusive YMCA community.

Gender Justice Policy: A Pledge to Equality and Inclusion

Central to the GEF discussions was the unveiling of the Gender Justice Policy by APAY. This policy is a beacon guiding the YMCA movement towards a non-discriminatory, gender-equal, and sustainable world. The policy's principles encompass non-discrimination, gender-responsive programs, representation & participation, capacity-building, advocacy, and gender mainstreaming. By explicitly stating a commitment to a 30% women participation & prioritizing gender equality through gender mainstreaming, the policy takes concrete steps towards fostering a more inclusive environment. APAY's offer of support through the Gender Equity Committee from 2024 to 2026 demonstrates a dedication to assisting member movements in implementing & adapting the policy.

General Assembly of APAY: Resilience in Action

The 21st General Assembly of APAY marked a significant reunion of the YMCAs after the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person gatherings became a testament to resilience – personal, communal, and institutional. The YMCA family emerged from the challenges with unwavering strength, extending compassion to communities & embodying solidarity.

The Assembly's theme, "Journeying Together as a Resilient Community: Transforming Lives through Vision 2030," encapsulated the shared commitment to global transformation. In the wake of conflicts, climate change, gender disparities, and various societal issues, the YMCA family affirmed its theological task to work towards a just world.

A Personal Journey: From Participation to Inspiration

As an active participant in both the GEF & the General Assembly, my experience transcended a mere attendance record. Exposure programs & workshops on the Meaningful Work pillar of Vision 2030 provided insights into the core values driving the Y-movement.

Conducting morning prayer sessions, visiting the YMCA School of Physical Education, and engaging in local & regional cultural exchanges were moments of deep connection & shared spirituality to me. My interview with a Y-Australia delegate became a platform to share experiences & perspectives, fostering global understanding & unity.

The journey abroad was not just a new experience but rather a realm of inspiration. The connections made, the exposure to diverse perspectives, and the collective commitment to positive change left an indelible mark on me. It was not just about witnessing the events, rather becoming an active participant in the journey towards an equitable world.

In conclusion, the conferences in Chennai were life-changing. The GEF & the General Assembly of APAY were spaces where commitments were made, policies were unveiled, and personal journeys intersected with a global movement. As I reflect on these experiences, I find myself more willing than ever to participate in future events, knowing that each gathering is a step towards a world where diversity is celebrated, justice prevails, and the YMCA family journeys together towards a brighter future.