Girlguiding and young women in leadership

17 January 2017

Becky Hewitt is Communications Director at Girlguiding.

The link between Girlguiding and leadership might not be obvious to everyone.

Surely our charity is more about knots, knitting and baking?  

But every day Girlguiding empowers nearly half a million girls and young women – aged between 5 and 25 – to go on life-changing adventures, build the confidence to try new things, broaden their horizons and have the courage of their convictions.

Every day girls inspire us with their imagination, their willingness to help other people and their bravery.

And every day our amazing volunteers support even the shyest girls to make decisions, speak out and show leadership within their weekly meetings.

We know from working with girls every day that they have the enthusiasm to learn, initiative to explore and the tenacity it takes to be leaders in any field they choose.

But we also know that the world they find themselves in is not fair. Young women today face vast pressures – from body image and media sexism, to sexual harassment in schools, internet trolling and sexting, and inequality in the workplace.

Recent Girlguiding research shows girls’ confidence plummeting as they get older – with a serious impact on their future ambitions.

Only a third of young women aged 17-21 believe women and men have the same chance of succeeding in their chosen jobs (35%). This compares to 90% of 9-10 year old girls and 54% of those aged 11-16.

Less than a third of young women aged 17-21 feel confident in themselves (31%) – compared to almost two-thirds of those who feel confident at primary school (63% of 7-10 year old girls).

Meanwhile only two-fifths of young women aged 17-21 feel they can do anything if they try or feel proud of something they’ve done - compared to three quarters of 7-10 year olds.

And just a quarter of young women aged 17-21 feel powerful - compared to a third of early teens (11-16 year old girls).

This stark decline in confidence comes just at the time girls are starting to think about the future, enter work or begin university – the time the foundations for future leadership are laid.

One of the many ways Girlguing promotes leadership is through CAMP CEO - a five day leadership event which sees young women receive one-to-one mentoring and expert career advice from some of the UK’s top leaders on how to overcome challenges and build confidence, develop interview techniques and networking skills.

As the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women we believe it’s our responsibility to build girls' confidence at this critical time in their lives - to fuel their ambition and help them grab tomorrow’s opportunities with both hands.

And we also believe everyone has a responsibility to call out and take action about inequality wherever they see it in their lives and to encourage girls to reach for the top in all walks of life. 

Girls’ ideas, voices and actions can transform the world around them for the better. Every girl who doesn’t fulfil their potential is a loss for us all. We all need to work together to create a fair and equal future for all of tomorrow’s leaders. 

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