It’s an incredible experience to be able to bring the voices of 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to the United Nations. This week, I recognized that there’s a gap between myself, as an empowered young woman, and many girls and young women around the world who aren’t able to speak up and participate in these types of events. How do we bring them to the table? How can I make sure I’m working to empower all girls and young women?
As a girl-led organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts develops and delivers programs empowering girls and young women around the world, and I’m very proud to belong to this organization.
Through our non-formal education methods, we are building citizenship and encouraging girls to see themselves as leaders today and agents of change today. The success of the Global Action Themes on implementing the Millennium Development Goals shows us what girls can do when they have the capacity.
Where would these girls be without an organization that makes them feel heard, valued, and supported in having control over what happens in their lives?
I work with girls and young women every day knowing that 1-in-3 will be, or already have been, victims of violence at some point in their lives. This isn’t someone else’s problem, these things happen every day and all day, even in Canada. Girls who have been the victims of gender-based violence need a safe, stable place to reclaim their voices. Girls who are bullied from one school to the next, need non-formal education to help provide a steady hand between their ever-changing classrooms. Girls with mental illnesses (rising in every age group) are particularly vulnerable to their objectification in the media. Without girl-led organizations, we are talking about years of lost potential.
In 2015, global leaders agreed to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, but I don’t think the world has truly realized that girls and young women are necessary to achieve this global agenda. Empowering girls and young women through WAGGGS programs is essential if we are to make any progress on the Global Goals.
The global community is still deciding how to measure progress on the new 2030 agenda, and we heard a lot this week about how to specifically measure girls and women to make sure that their experiences are reflected in the data the world will collect. If global leaders want to know what to measure about girls’ lived experiences, it will be essential to talk to girls and meet them in spaces where they feel safe sharing their lives. Girls are the experts in their own lives.
Girl Guides and Girl Scouts allow girls to feel empowered and to meaningfully contribute and participate in a way that reflects their full potential.
Our experiences in working with girls – our methods, our data, and our participants – are essential to ensure: meaningful implementation of the Global Goals for girls; that we measure what matters in the lives of girls; and that we enable girls to hold their communities accountable in making sure the Global Goals deliver for all girls.