Further to a number of posts documenting developments in the world of Girlguiding, see the creation of a new ‘Breaking Barriers’badge.
Girlguiding launches badge for global gender equality
Earning the Girlguiding “Breaking Barriers” badge, aimed at girls aged 10 to 14, teaches Guides about the limitations women and girls face around the world and to look at hardhitting issues such as forced marriage, poor healthcare and gender equality.
Asked if they saw the Guides as a feminist organisation, there was little hesitation among the group of Guides. “I feel quite passionate about feminism, because it really makes me think I can help as well in different situations,” said 14-year-old Deborah Miller.
Girlguiding’s chief, Guide Gill Slocombe, insisted that despite the stereotype, it had always been a revolutionary organisation.
“The Guides have always been at the cutting edge of enabling girls to do whatever they want,” she said. “From the very start girls were encouraged to swim, to cycle – things that weren’t considered fit things for girls to do at that time.”
She laughed off the suggestion that the Guides were in danger of being labelled a radical feminist organisation, but added: “You educate a girl and you educate a nation – perhaps it sounds arrogant to say it, but if you teach the educators of the future – perhaps the world might be a better place.”
Now the debate which has long raged within Scouting and Guiding circles is whether single sex or mixed provision is most effective ? your opinions would be welcome.
Tony -I think the debate has ebbed and flowed across all my time in youth work, probably most memorably in the late 1970’s and 80’s with the emergence of a challenging feminist Girls Work. In this scenario the local authority mixed youth centre was criticised as being a boys’ club with the girls ‘invisible’ in the toilets. At the time I wrote about ‘Working with Young Men: Towards an Anti-Sexist Practice’. Much has happened since, but the issues remain in one form or another. Personally I’d like to revisit the question you pose in some sort of seminar later this year with the Guides and Scouts centrally involved in the discussion. Do you think there would be interest?
To be honest Tony I have no idea, When I said the debate has raged I meant raged. If I were going to start breaking down barriers and inviting Guides and Scouts to seminars I probably would not chose the subject which most divides them.