With girls and women’s rights firmly in the spotlight, young people are expressing anxiety about the divided world they are growing up in and concern that their voices are not being reflected by those in power.
In a bid to ensure young women’s voices are heard, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts launched a letter-writing campaign, to coincide with World Thinking Day. The campaign encouraged its 10 million members to share their hope and ambitions for a better world with girls across the globe so that together they can form a stronger collective voice about issues that affect them, such as gender equality and discrimination.
From Syria and Georgia, to Liberia and the Philippines, here are 10 powerful excerpts from letters written by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world, who reveal the issues affecting them and how Guiding is helping their community stay united, rather than divided:
Zain, 22, Syria
Didem, 19, Turkey
“There is no denying that it is hard to live as a young girl in Turkey just like all around the world but no matter how hard it is, I am proud to be a part of this beautiful country. It is an honor to live under the great flag of Turkey. Scouting boosted my self-confidence. It led to me being more active in my social life. Scouting activities, all the things that I have learned, the camps that I’ve participated were really beneficial for me. Actually, I can say that scouting completely evolved me in a better way.
Tata, 16, Georgia
Jan Thereze, 17, Philippines
“Girls must never be made to feel that they are not good enough. Throughout WAGGGS and Dove’s body confidence programme, Free Being Me, I’ve learnt a lot of lessons and it is helping many girls love themselves more. I’ve learned one should not praise an image. Society cannot dictate how you should present yourself in the world. I learned that all of us are like stars shining. Sometimes, we are just blinded and we tend to forget that we are a wonderful creation. I learned that we should not let the world change us. It is us who will change the world.”
"Guiding has been the best thing that has happened to me since I joined. The topics that are the most important to approach here in my country are related to violence. I help the guide leader when we give a session on a specific subject that I know something about and the most beautiful thing is that she lets me contribute my ideas. I like that.
"It is nice as a guide to belong to a large family, and we have developed community activities here to help prevent Dengue, Chicungunya and Zika. We have had an impact by doing house-to-house walks to increase awareness of these viruses."
Guide, 12 Greece
Ulya, 28, Azjerbajan
“In my country, men are more independent than women. They are represented in social, public, political and economic fields. Women still lead conservative lives and have to depend on their family. They lack confidence, but we want to give their confidence back and help them believe in themselves.”