- As global poll reveals over two-thirds of girls say gender concerns affect life choices
(LONDON, UK) - GIRL Guides and Girl Scouts from across the world are taking a stand against inequality and calling for transformative change during their lifetime, after a global poll revealed over two thirds (66%) of girls felt perceptions or restrictions based on their gender have affected their confidence or stopped them following their dreams, The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) says today.
The poll, conducted through U-Report with over 3,000 young people from 60 countries, coincides with the launch of the Movement’s first ever #GreatGirlLeaders campaign, which aims to inspire and enable young girls around the world to follow their dreams.
With 10 million members in 146 countries around the world, the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement plays a key role in helping to inspire and educate young girls to become leaders in their communities through its ground-breaking leadership training programme.
But as the poll revealed, both boys and girls agreed that more support is needed for girls to able to pursue a career in any field (43%), including STEM. And that there needs to be more safe spaces for them to develop the skills they need, and more role models of women in leadership position they can look up to.
Aymen, a Girl Guide, from Pakistan said: “Restrictions are what become barriers in achieving your dreams in Pakistan. Girls are not allowed to achieve high quality education and are given a lower status in society. Girl Guides relieves us from the pressure of a male-dominated society and has given me the confidence to speak out and achieve my rights.”
A series of remarkable women who are using their Guiding and Girl Scouting skills to achieve great things are helping to raise awareness of the campaign by showing what a positive difference being part of the Movement has made to their life.
They include: a HIV activist from Malawi, fashion entrepreneur, a trailblazing dentist from Tunisia, a model and self-care advocate, a technology guru, a breast cancer researcher and a space engineer.
One of the inspiring women leading the campaign is prominent model and self-care advocate Iskra Lawrence, 26, from the UK:
“When I started modelling, I was told I was too 'big' to be a 'normal' model, and then too small to be a 'plus-sized' model. These set-backs made me question myself and my body. I overcame these barriers by starting to accept the body I have and love it for what it does for me.
“Growing up as a young woman today is definitely different, especially with the added pressure of social media, but my advice to girls would be: count your blessings, be grateful to friends and family, grab the opportunities Guiding gives you to grow and make great friends. Part of our pledge was 'be kind and helpful' simple but I still believe, and practice it today!”
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 women around the world on average earn just over half of what men earn despite working longer hours, taking paid and unpaid work into account. The number of women in senior positions also remains low, with only four countries in the world having equal numbers of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers, although 95 countries now have as many – if not more – women educated at university level.
Constraints on girls and young women, coupled with a lack of leadership opportunities, are rooted in harmful norms and stereotypes in the society. But as shown through the stories of those fronting WAGGGS’, #GreatGirlLeaders campaign, these stereotypes can be challenged and overcome when girls are given the space, support and confidence they need.
Through WAGGGS’ flagship leadership programmes and events, participants can explore themes such as personal development, leadership, change and transformation in the community in a safe space. Our non-formal education approach — which relies on experiential, hands-on learning — helps to make complex topics accessible and fun for young people. By encouraging girls to work in small groups and using a mix of learning styles and activities such as role play, sketches and games, girls and young women can take ownership of their lives in a space where young people can listen, discuss what’s important, develop confidence and better support one another.
Anita Tiessen, CEO of World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, said:
"Girls should never feel like they need to make decisions on what work or careers they want to pursue based on their gender, or how they look. We believe that girls everywhere have the talent and potential to help us change the world for the better, and we all have a responsibly to ensure they have the skills and opportunities to do that.
"By giving them the knowledge, inspiration and space they need to make their voices heard, they can be the change they want to see and follow their dreams, whether that’s becoming a model, space engineer or social activist.”
For the full poll results, visit: https://ureport.in/poll/1845/
To find out more about the #GreatGirlLeaders campaign, visit: https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/international-womens-day/
Photo of Iskra Lawrence: Max Mongomery
"Girls everywhere have the talent and potential to help us change the world for the better, and we all have a responsibly to ensure they have the skills and opportunities to do that"
We have a series of supporting case studies and photos available, including:
- Model and self-care advocate, Iskra Lawrence, UK
- HIV activist, Miriam Msiska Nyoni, Malawi
- Fashion entrepreneur to royalty, Yvette Jelfs, UK
- Trailblazing dentist, Imen Ayouni, Tunisia
- Global Goals champion, Hannah Stanton, Germany
- Breast cancer researcher, Krysta Coyle, Canada
- Space engineer, Jess Marshall, UK
For more information, please contact:
Angela Singh, Communications Manager, Media
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
Phone: +44 (0)20 7433 6460
NOTES TO EDITORS
About World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world. Our diverse Movement represents ten million girls and young women from 146 countries.
For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women worldwide, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and become responsible citizens of the world. https://www.wagggs.org/en/
U-Report is a ground-breaking, social messaging tool designed to amplify the voices of young people so they can achieve positive change for their communities. Run by coalitions of non-governmental and faith-based organisations, U-Report allows young people to speak out through SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and other web-based channels on what is happening in their communities. It also provides a forum to amplify young people’s voices through local, national and international media, and feeds back useful information to the U-Reporters, so they are empowered to work for change and improvements in their communities.
While U-Report can be used to address any issue that affects children and young people, it serves to raise awareness, share information with and among young people, and collect quantifiable data on specific questions on a variety of issues that impact the most vulnerable, including child protection, health, education and emergency response. Responses received are analysed in real time and data are mapped at the local level and compiled nationally. With over 2.7 million young people involved, U-Report community data are filling an information vacuum across 29 countries, enabling decision makers to react quickly to meet young people’s needs, connecting marginalised communities to crucial services, creating early-warning systems to address needs more quickly, and speeding up surveys to improve accountability around project implementation.
For more information about U-Report, please visit https://ureport.in/