From Syria to Sudan: A body confidence breakthrough

The Syrian Girl Guides recently teamed up with their counterparts in Sudan to train over 70 leaders on Free Being Me – a joint programme from WAGGGS and Dove, focused on empowering girls with the body confidence and the freedom to be themselves. During the training, leaders from both countries shared what life is like in-country and revealed how the innovative programme is changing their lives…

Sham, 22, Syria

Sham, Syria

My life in Syria is normal as it can be. I have friends, I go to university and I hang out every day until night. The war has taken its toll on my country, however, I am thankful it hasn’t affected me in-person. Instead, it’s made me stronger and helped me realise what I want to do in life.

It’s made me understand the importance of education and it is now my priority. During the holidays, I attend Girl Guide activities. I have been a Girl Guide since I was 10 and I am thankful my parents encouraged me to join the Movement. It has helped me no end and it’s one of the reasons I consider myself a successful person.

Our Girl Guiding meetings are always enjoyable. We participate in activities, sing songs and learn about issues such as body confidence. Girl Guiding has been integral in teaching me about the importance of girls’ rights. Every girl should feel free to say what she wants and do what she loves. This is what motivates me.

I’ve learnt a lot, particularly through the programme Free Being Me, and it was fantastic to meet Girl Guides from Sudan during our recent training session. I’ve learnt the importance of body confidence, especially as so many girls and boys believe the image myth. It has helped me understand the importance of body confidence and improve trust in my body.

Asia, SudanAsia, 18, Sudan

In Sudan, limitations are placed on men and women. Primary and secondary schools aren’t mixed, however men and women work hard to respect one another. 

Sudan is starting to provide more opportunities for young people. I go to university and socialise with my friends. During my spare time, I am a Girl Guide. It’s taught me how to be organised, how to help others as well as develop my confidence. It also provides an opportunity to discuss issues related to girls and find solutions.

Programmes such as Free Being Me have helped me develop self-confidence so I can speak out. For example, I used to think riding a bike was just for boys, but through this project, I developed self-belief and now I train my younger brothers to ride it.  

Free Being Me has also helped me to improve my body confidence and self-esteem, as well as develop my leadership skills.

Fighting for the rights of girls and young women is very important. I want to support women so they feel as though they are not less than men and so they can access the leadership positions they so deserve. 

Rania, 30, Sudan

Girl Guiding has taught me the importance of self-confidence and self-reliance. Even now, my favourite days are when I am at Girl Guides, among leaders and young women. We focus on issues such as girls’ rights, interspersed with activities, games and competitions.

I was inspired to become a Girl Guide as I saw how the programmes it offered, such as Free Being Me, helped tackle the real-life issues girls’ face. As a result, I’ve learnt how to be confident, how to achieve my ambitions and how to become a successful leader.

I particularly enjoy being part of Free Being Me as it helps enhance self-confidence and self-esteem, encouraging girls to become leaders in their own right. I have benefited from this programme in many ways and I am glad we are able to share it with more girls, from Syria as well as Sudan. It has strengthened my self-confidence and it has broken the beauty myth, making me realise beauty lies on the inside, not on the outside.

Salma, SudanSalma, 29, Sudan

My community is dominated by men, and my country favours men over women. While I was studying at university, I had a dream of opening a small restaurant with an innovative and beautiful design where I managed it myself. My idea was rejected as daughters of respectable families ‘did not work in such occupations.’

At times, life in Sudan has been stifling, but the Girl Guides taught me the importance of girls’ rights and how they are essential for a society to achieve justice and equality.

I recently attended a training on Free Being Me, a programme from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Dove. The aim is to ensure girls can develop self-confidence and self-esteem, so they can bring about positive change within themselves and the community.

It taught me to recognise my positive attributes as well as those in other people. It’s helped change my view about many things that I considered important and, instead, to look at the essence of people.

To learn more about  Free Being Me, visit:

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