Giving girls a voice and raising their aspirations is a key part of Girlguiding’s work. We give girls
and young women a space where they can be themselves, have fun, and make a positive difference. Importantly, we provide platforms where girls’ voices can be heard, and we empower them to speak out.
One example of how we do this is our youth panel Advocate. Advocate is a group of Girlguiding members aged 14-25 who discuss the issues girls care about and seek change. They talk about body confidence, representation of girls and women in the media, education, teenage mental health, role models for girls and lots more and they consider how things could change for the better.
The 17 Advocates speak up about what they are passionate about, and they seek change by talking to MPs and in Parliament, supporting campaigns, speaking out in the media, inspiring other members in their local guiding groups, and speaking at Girlguiding and other charity or industry events. They also help to direct Girlguiding’s research, advocacy and campaigning work.
‘The best bit about Advocate is getting the opportunity to speak out about issues I’m passionate about, and share my thoughts with other people’ – Amy, 16, Girlguiding Advocate from Glasgow.
‘Being an Advocate has given me the skills which allowed me to speak at a political Party conference, and to discuss with my guiding group the issues we face and how we can seek change’ – Daisy, 17, Girlguiding Advocate from Holmfirth
In the last 12 months the Advocates have had the chance to take on new challenges – speaking as part of a panel at Girlguiding roundtable events, taking part in a stand-up comedy workshop, taking over Girlguiding’s Twitter account during events, and speaking to the media about equality for girls and women during the launch of Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2013 are just a few examples.
Advocates have also written blogs, including one about better PSHE and SRE education in schools. They regularly attend All Party Parliamentary Groups and have recently spoken to MPs and Government Ministers about the National Curriculum, teenage mental health, work experience and careers, and PSHE in schools.
Advocates also help to write questions for Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey, an annual survey of UK girls’ opinions on everything from careers to sexism in their everyday lives. In 2013 the survey found that 75% of girls and young women said that sexism is so widespread today that it affects most areas of their lives, and 66% said they think there are not enough women in leadership positions in the UK.
Despite these challenges though, it also found that 67% said that ambition is important to them and that 58% say they would like to become a leader in their chosen profession. Girlguiding draws on this research to continue to develop how we support girls and young women to raise their aspirations and fulfil their potential.