Girl Guides and Girl Scouts mark International Women's Day

07 March 2021
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Girl Guides and Girl Scouts mark International Women's Day with large girl-led event with political leaders.

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world are challenging leaders to listen to their experiences in a bid to highlight the pressing issues facing girls and young women today.

From the disproportionate impact of climate change and COVID-19 on girls and young women, to violence and discrimination, members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) will challenge leaders to hear their experiences as they call for real change ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

The “It’s Time To Listen to Girls” event will see Dorothy, 18, a Girl Scout from the Philippines, Fehizoro, 20, a Girl Guide from Madagascar and Andrea, 25, a Generation Unlimited volunteer from Mexico, go head to head with leaders including Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Envoy, and Solveig Schytz, Norwegian Member of Parliament, and Brenda Austin, Argentinian Member of Parliament, in an online panel discussion on Sunday 7 March.

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Girl Scout, Dorothy Rosario, participant of our Together We Rise programme in the Philippines, said:

“Every day, we’re judged by the way we look. We face violence and discrimination. We’re underrepresented in areas such as maths, science and technology. We’re told we’re not enough – and it is having serious and life-altering impacts on our physical and mental wellbeing.

“We want to see leaders step up and make real meaningful change, whether that’s through life-saving support services or funding for girls’ education programmes. We’re the experts on our own lives and we deserve to be seen and heard.”

These young women will call on these leaders to listen to them, and the voices of thousands of other girls and young women who have bravely shared their experiences of violence, discrimination and the impacts of climate change and COVID-19 through U-Report Global - a messaging tool that empowers young people around the world to speak out on issues that matter to them.

Coordinated by WAGGGS and 20 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world, and supported by Generation Unlimited and the office of the UN Youth Envoy, the event will see hundreds of girls and women from dozens of countries come together to challenge leaders to step up and take their views into consideration.

The event will also serve as the launch for a new online game that will allow its participants to reflect on the results of recent WAGGGS and UReport Global youth consultations and actions they can take to better the lives of women and girls around the world.

Holding leaders to account

With the International Women’s Day theme of “Choose to Challenge”, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts across the world are determined to challenge the injustices they face. They are writing letters to leaders, creating pressure on social media, speaking out in global advocacy spaces and organising online and offline events.

Ejin Tan, a Girl Guide from Malaysia, is choosing to challenge intergenerational discrimination.

“When I was calling for an end child marriage, people commented on social media that Girl Guides shouldn’t be involved in this issue. I was told to stay in my lane, even though my Girl Guide group and I had proven we were capable of bringing about real change.

“I decided not to listen to those criticisms. I knew if I could empower just one young person, it would start a chain reaction. This motivates me to continue challenging and pushing new boundaries.”

Violence remains a major issue that girls and women face on a daily basis, with the World Health Organisation reporting it as “a global health problem of epidemic proportions”.

Therese Malinowsky, from the Girl Scouts of the USA, is determined to do something about it. Having created the first college campus sexual assault database, providing free access to information about the state of sexual assault at every college in the State of Illinois.

“By making information about the status of sexual assault at each college campus available and challenging those that suppress this information, I am sparking conversations that chip away at the suppressive culture of campus sexual assault,” she said.

“Information transparency is the gateway to positive change and to understanding the reality and prevalence of sexual assault.”

Charity of choice

WAGGGS is a long-time partner of International Women’s Day and the organization is proud to be one of its charities of choice this year.

Anna Segall, Chief Executive Officer at WAGGGS said: “Our partnership with International Women's Day is part of our story. It provides us with a platform and opportunity to celebrate the achievements of girls and women in our Movement but also to come together across sectors, to raise awareness of the need for greater progress on gender equality. We are thoroughly looking forward to sharing what our Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are choosing to challenge this year.”

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