Meet our Director Kara

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As an organisation that is over 160 years old, we have a fantastic history of celebrating young women. In 2017 Kara has taken over as the Director of our organisation and at 28 years old she is the youngest director in our entire history. Some of you may already know her, but we wanted to formally introduce you to the young woman taking us forward into the next phase of our development. Meet Kara Brown:

Tell us a bit about your journey with YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement.

I first heard about YWCA Scotland when I was doing another job that I didn’t love and my heart wasn’t really in it. I wanted to work on human rights, I knew I needed to get some experience and I saw a volunteer vacancy advertised for YWCA Scotland and thought “Oh I don’t know, it maybe sounds Christian and I’m not sure that it’s feminist and what I’m really looking for.” But it sounded really interesting and the worldwide part of it sounded exciting and I could tell, based on the advert, that it might be something that aligned with my own values. I responded to the advert, met former Director Jackie in our old offices in Gayfield Square in Edinburgh, we had a cup of tea and the rest is history! I started as a volunteer when the No More Page 3 campaign was at the height of its campaigning, so I met lots of young women and felt really inspired by their work. I loved their positivity, their humour, the way they used social media, and the fact that they had organically grown that movement of people in different countries, cities, and parts of the UK. That’s the direction I felt that we could go in as an organisation. So I did a bit of volunteering with NMP3 and YWCA and when a job was advertised about 8 months into my voluntary work I went for it.

When I discovered that the people behind the organisation were like me in that they believed in something secular and inclusive and very feminist, I felt quite passionately that I could help them spread the message, raise the profile and change the stereotypes and misunderstanding around the YWCA in the UK.

I didn’t see myself as a leader before this organisation.

What are you enjoying most about your role?

I am enjoying going to events as a little team with a young women in the lead. It maybe takes people by surprise at first, but then they’re more interested in what we’re trying to do around young women’s leadership because they see it in action. I love having other young women with me so that they know that they can be in a position like mine when they’re older and that they’re encouraged to go for it. So when we say that we believe in young women’s abilities to do any number of things, and we believe that all women can do anything that they want to do, we mean it! To me, that includes young women leading organisations, being part of decision making processes, and being a role model for others. I think it’s important that we help to put young women in the spaces that we aren’t usually seen to be; it’s really important that when we talk about young people that young women’s voices are part of that. And the best way to ensure that happens is to make sure that young women are in leadership positions.

What do you want to achieve as director?

I want to find balance. For me spending time with my rabbits, with friends, making time to visit my brother up in Aviemore, things like that really ground me, because even though work is very important and ending gender inequality is important, I feel like when I take time off or spend time with the people that I love, that reminds me that we’re all quite small and part of something so much bigger. I’m not going to be able to change everything over night or even in my lifetime, but I can do as much as I can. So getting the balance right is one of the key things that I would like to achieve in my director role. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am that I now almost feel like I can take a breath, and if I’m going to be somebody who walks the walk in terms of young women’s leadership then I want to make sure that part of that is finding balance, inner peace and learning self care. So many people don’t do that when they reach these positions and if you’re not relaxed and happy then what’s the point in doing what you do? Having fun at work, outside of work and being able to relax will allow me to do my job to the best of my ability; that’s what I’d really like to achieve as a director. It’s not easy to do, but having the rabbits helps. 

Tweet Kara @karahartley and check out her behind the scenes story as director on Instagram: @karahartley.


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