With the revolutionary changes in life styles in the 19th Century
the YWCA was born in Great Britain in 1851. This was during the
industrial revolution when young women left the rural villages to
work in the city factories. Florence Nightingale encouraged young
women to take up to nursing and join groups going to Crimea to
nurse injured soldiers. Emma Robarts a devout Christian woman
initiated a prayer group to pray for these young women and a
wealthy woman Lady Mary Jane Kinnaird built a hostel to provide
safe accommodation for women coming into the cities.
In 1882 the Hon Emily Kinnaird visited Ceylon and met a group of
women with similar aspirations and the Colombo branch of the YWCA
was formed. This was followed by the formation of the YWCAs in
Galle, Kandy, Negombo and Panadura.. It was in 1951 that the
National YWCA of Ceylon was accepted as an independent National
Association at the YWCA World Council held in Beirut, Lebonon.
Since then the YWCA movement in Ceylon was involved in the
promotion of welfare activities for women and girls. In the 1970�s
the YWCA movement in Sri Lanka spread to the rural areas. Today
there are 32 groups conducted by the National YWCA of Sri Lanka.
These include 19 local Associations, 2 fellowship groups 3 Seva
Samithies (Service Groups), and 8 Clubs coming under the Colombo