“I may not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know who I want to be”
Isobel Goddard, 29
“In March 2016 I moved to Canada with my partner. I took the opportunity to get a feel for my real goals and ambitions. I asked myself who I wanted to be when I grow up. This was the start of my journey to becoming a remote delegate for WAGGGS at the Commission on the Status of Women.
“I took inspiration from Canada’s value in volunteering and looked for roles that linked my interests in education, women’s empowerment and international development. This led me to a foundation that empowers young women to promote peace in the Middle East by supporting their post-secondary education.
“After finding my feet, I linked with my sisters in Guiding through Girl Guides of Canada, and joined local units in Brownies and Pathfinders. I instantly felt included, encouraged and inspired to do good things. My appreciation of being part of an international movement was heightened, and I wanted to make the most of this.
“Looking back, there is one event that inspired me to apply for the role of delegate. In October 2016 I travelled to Wroclaw (Poland) to visit my friend Brenda. She had been organising a Pride march in support of LGBT rights. I was going to march with her. I could write many words on what a beautiful experience this was; about how proud I felt to be Brenda’s friend that day and the level of courage it took her to stand up and speak out for her rights. Support from police services was well-organised and prepared for violence. We felt safe whilst marching and gathering for speeches but after the march we had to remove all of our rainbow paraphernalia to stay safe. This included wiping off my face paint with tissues and rain water. In my experience, the rainbow has always been used to celebrate pride and now wearing it was a reason to be fearful. This was a stark reminder of my privilege; that many are still fighting for rights and freedoms I take for granted.“The chance to work as a remote delegate with WAGGGS and the UN is another step in my Guiding journey and I am looking forward to working hard to make it a step forward for many other young women.”
"I want to overcome that fear and take action. I know I can do it"
Scotia Eyram Akar, 26
As a young girl who was expected to be quiet and not seen, I decided to take a stand. My mother would say, ‘I have a daughter who is like the wind.’ On many occasions, the Ghanaian society tried to keep me quiet. It wasn’t easy but I had to cope.
Things changed when a teacher from my school started a Girl Guiding unit. I have often asked myself why I joined the group. In the beginning, it was because of the beautiful blue uniform we wore on Fridays and the idea that I could sew badges all over my uniform.
Gradually I moved through the ranks of Girl Guiding Ghana. I am proud to say I am still a Guide today, a volunteer for the Association and a Rangers’/ Cadets Commissioner.
There’s still much to achieve and CSW61 is a great opportunity for me. I will receive information, explore my imagination and work with groups of wonderful, diverse young women. I am looking forward to challenging stakeholders on issues important to my country. I want to overcome that fear and take action. I know I can do it.
“I want to make sure girls’ voices are heard”
Christina Mikhael, 23
“I’ve only been a Girl Guide for a year. I joined because I wanted to give back to my community and empower girls and young women.
“I am now an Interim Unit Leader with a wonderful Senior Guide Unit. I am also a member of my local Olave peer group. Joining the Girl Guide and Girl Scout Movement has been an incredible experience. It’s been wonderful to support and work with amazing girls and young women, and learn from all the committed and passionate volunteers who make the Movement possible.
“I am excited to be a remote delegate for the CSW, as I am deeply passionate about the inclusion of young people's voices in the decisions that will impact their lives.
“As an organisation that works with girls and young women in local communities across 146 countries, WAGGGS is uniquely placed to bring girls and young women's perspectives to international decision-makers at the United Nations.
“As a delegation, I want us to share our experiences and concerns to raise awareness about the critical issues facing girls and young women, and demonstrate the amazing work that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and local member organisations are doing to address these issues.
“I hope we can provide opportunities to share what is happening at CSW61 with our youth members so they can be informed about the event and learn about the opportunities to become advocates for the causes they believe in.”
“Girl Guiding changed my life for the better”
Lucy Christiana Serwaa Agyeman, 28
“Girl Guiding changed my life for the better. In secondary school, I was involved in an accident where a wall collapsed on me. The only people around were girls. After struggling to get me out, I suffered injuries all over my body. I was bullied afterwards and called names like ‘Long John Silver’ because of how I was walking.
“It affected my self-esteem, confidence and how I regarded myself until I was introduced to Girl Guiding. Girl Guiding helped me build my self-esteem. Taking part in WAGGGS programs like Free Being Me, Stop the Violence, Surf smart and many others has made me the young woman I am today. I have gained leadership experience from attending the Juliette Low Seminar. I have learned body confidence and self-esteem from Free Being Me program. It has been an amazing, fun experience.
“I am now an active youth member and a training team member in my association in the Ghana Girl Guide Association. I work with the Ghana-Netherlands partnership team. I have my own troop where I support over 100 brownies and guides with another leader.
“Through international guiding and projects, I have met amazing and lovely women who keep in touch and ask about my progress in life. Being in contact with guides from other parts of the world has given me knowledge about how it works in other countries and how I can integrate certain values in my life and guiding.
“Participating in this year’s CSW, will let me learn new things and provide an opportunity to meet new people and build networks for advocacy.
“As a place where global issues are discussed, I can offer solutions on behalf of girls and women in my country. I can also explore the issues girls and young women face across the world and share with others at the Ghana Girl Guide Association.”
My whole life has been marked by my experience as Girl Guide
Macarena Bascour Fredes, 29
My whole life has been marked by my experience as Girl Guide. I started guiding when I enrolled in a local Group at the age of 7 in a unit called Swallows. I was able to learn about friendship, teamwork, and above all, I learned that it is important for us to join together all of our abilities and talents to create a better and more fair world in which all of us can achieve our fullest potential.
Later on, when I decided to study Sociology, I also started my work as a volunteer in a unit where I was guiding boys and girls. This was an amazing experience for me because I discovered the importance of training for young adults as well as younger girls and boys. As a result of my experience I decided to get more involved by becoming the National Trainer for Chile. I have been in this role for ten years now and I am very passionate about it.
Almost two years ago was appointed National Coordinator of Youth Programme in my Member Organization. This role has allowed me to develop educational materials for adults, children and large teams of volunteers under my supervision. I have also been responsible for the development of new projects like writing a Child Protection Policy and the implementation of international curriculum's which include Voices against Violence, U-Report and Free Being Me. These projects enrich the unit’s activities and allow us to have a direct influence on making changes in the world we want today. The Stop The Violence Campaign has had a special impact in our young and adult leaders as it has given them a deeper understanding of gender inequality and motivated boys and girls to speak out to defend their own rights and educate leaders about violence and then together create a different world.
“Guiding has shaped me as a person”
Isla Whateley, 20
“I’ve been passionate about girl’s rights and development for years now. My work as an advocate with Girlguiding UK sparked this passion and inspired my degree choice – Social Anthropology with Development. As an advocate, I was introduced to feminism and gender inequality and actually had a pivotal role as an activist fighting to change things in Britain.
“This experience was one of the best things I’ve ever done and has shaped me as a person. Being a delegate at CSW is a wonderful opportunity for me – I am representing an organisation that I love and speaking out for girls and young women, something else I love doing.
“I can’t wait to work on plans for CSW and engage with the delegation over social media when the time comes."
"Girls and young women can make a difference in this world"Alice Csabi ,25
Girl Guiding has always been a part of me, my mother was a leader for many years and I was taken to her units camps in a cot as a baby. At the age of five I was adamant that I wanted to try out for our local unit. When I began, I was a shy and reserved little girl, but throughout my years in guiding I grew to become and confident and strong woman. Guiding and its opportunity and experiences have made me who I am today. This is why I choose to give back into Guiding by being involved as a Unit Leader, and Olave.
In 2007 as a 14 year old, I applied to be the region representative for ‘Girl Guides Get Going’ Advocacy Project. The projects aim was to educate other guides and girls about what advocacy is and the changing status of women in Australia. Aspects of the project included gaining the right to vote, being allowed to take on senior roles and positions in the workforce, pushing for equal pay and empowering others to be advocates themselves by taking action, educating and spreading the word about gender inequality. This empowering experience started me on the rollercoaster of advocacy.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Asia Pacific Region Summit in 2009 as a Youth Delegate for Australia. It was in this space that I first had the opportunity to represent girls voices on an international level. I believe that it is so important to speak up for those who don’t have a voice in these challenging times. Girls and young women can make a difference in this world, but only if we stand up, take action and speak out about what is right. It is a honour to participate in CSW as a remote delegate and I am looking forward to representing the 10 million girls and young women who are involved in such a wonderful and empowering movement.
As a teacher at a Warlpiri two-way learning school in remote, desert Australia, I am privileged to work with and mentor several outstanding and culturally strong indigenous women. I spend a great amount of time working with these ladies discussing and planning learning tasks for the children, developing approaches to teach cultural lessons and ensuring that the required learning is relevant to their lives and community. These women have to be strong for many reasons. Gender Equality is something that we all need to strive for. Events such as CSW provide world leaders with the platform to learn from each other and hear the voices that they may choose to otherwise ignore. This demonstrates the impact and importance of positive partnerships. When we teach, and learn as an individual we are empowered. When we teach, and learn together the world is empowered.
Ngaju japi-jarrimi. Ngaju pardimi. ‘I learn. I grow’.
"If we want a better future, violence against girls has to end"
Elizabeth Chatuwa, 28
I have been a Girl Guide since I was 10. I joined guide as one of the clubs at school where I could go and play with my friends. As I was grouping up, Girl Guides changed my mind set. I realised how powerful Girl Guiding was because it helped girls and young women in different ways i.e mentally, physically economically through non-formal education.
Being a Girl Guide has given me the chance to overcome my fears, build courage and self -esteem and develop my skills through different programs and seminars I have participated in. I have been able to develop myself and make a change in the world by positively impacting people's lives. I was lucky to be part of the delegates for world Youth Conference in 2014. This was my eye opener to speak to the world on agendas affecting girls and young women.
I am the District Youth Commissioner for the Malawi Girl Guides Association and a lead team member of Free Being Me. Outside of guiding, I am a member of the Wecare Youth Group helping vulnerable girls and boys with school needs as volunteers.
I also work on the WAGGGS global Stop the Violence campaign as a Champions of the Voice against Violence curriculum. Violence against girls and women is an important issue to me. Violence impacts one in three women and girls globally and is the most pervasive human rights violation. For adolescent girls in Malawi, life can be especially difficult. Malawi has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. Through our work with the Stop the Violence campaign we developed a campaign calling for the government of Malawi to take legal measures to tackle child marriage. This resulted in the Malawian Parliament adopting an amendment to the law which raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 years to 18 years. If we want a better future, violence against girls has to end. Let’s be responsible citizens!
I am delighted to be part of the CSW61 remote delegate where I will be a megaphone sharing our Key Messages and provide extra support to our physical WAGGGS delegates. The theme of CSW61 is women's economic empowerment and recognizes that “economic empowerment starts with girls”. Let us invest in girls!
"I saw the impact that education was having in the community"
Danielle Hak, 19
Growing in up Canada, I have always been curious about the world around me. I began traveling from a young age and my passion for seeing new places and learning about new cultures continued to grow. Throughout my travels, I began to see first-hand the differences in the lives of the people I was meeting to what my life was like at home. This sparked my passion for social justice. I became increasingly curious about the issues that affected members of the international community such as child labour and women’s rights violations, but my curiosity also grew about injustices within my own community. I began volunteering with various social action groups in my school as well as community organizations such as the food bank and local homeless shelters.
My love for helping others and volunteering led me to traveling to India the summer before my final year of high school. I had the opportunity to volunteer in a small village where my team and I were helping to build the final three classrooms of a new school. The community previously did not have a safe and proper school building. Since my visit in 2014, the school has already helped hundreds of students receive an education and will continue to help the community for generations to come. During my stay in India, I also had the chance to meet many community members and female leaders in the community. Each and every one of these women inspire me and I continue remember their stories in all the work that I do.
While I was in India, I saw the impact that education was having in the community. This made me feel very fortunate for my ability to continue pursuing a higher education. At that moment, I realized that I wanted to use my education to help others around the world.
Now, I am in my second year at the University of Waterloo, pursuing my bachelor of environmental studies with my degree in international development. In my studies I am able to continue learning about my passions of environmental and social justice, as well as, human and women’s rights. I hope to one day work as an international aid worker and international development practitioner. I have been fortunate enough to receive an incredible education and experiences, which I strive to use every day to help others and make the world a place.