As part of International Women's Day 2015, I decided to look at an organisation that promotes the ethics and aims of what International Women’s Day is trying to achieve. WAGGGS, (Worldwide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), is an organisation of women that do excellent work internationally and one that is close to my heart.
WAGGGS is the largest voluntary organisation worldwide. Started in 1910, there are now over 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 146 countries across the world. WAGGGS welcome all girls, regardless of religion, ethnicity and background. It encourages young women to make decisions that will benefit others in a community, national and international setting. WAGGGS helps develop self-esteem, leadership skills, community values, and volunteering opportunities as well as promoting healthy lifestyles.
I joined my local branch of Girl Guides at the age of 12, as it was something both my parents talked about. They were involved in the guides/scouts as participants and leaders when they were younger. Whenever it was spoken about, it was always associated with fond memories and it was something I wanted to try. Little did I know when I joined that it would bring me on trips all over Ireland, as well as abroad, visiting Pax Lodge and Our Chalet, the World Centres. It also gave me some of my best friends still to this day.
Guides empowered me to set a goal of achieving my 'Gold Award', the highest achievement offered within the Irish Girl Guide organisation. It encompassed weeks of volunteering with my local branch of Brownies, helping others, as well as developing my own skills and giving me the opportunity to open my eyes to new hobbies.
From skiing for eight days in Switzerland, to running around muddy forests orienteering, earning badges for various work or volunteering at Christmas with various charities, the Girl Guides teaches life skills and it helped shape me to be the person I've become. It give me appropriate responsibilities at a young age, it taught me the understanding of friendship and support, and to feel the sense of belonging to a wonderful worldwide connection of women. WAGGGS is an organisation that allows for females voices to be heard, and for young women to feel they are important. The WAGGGS ethos and goal is definitely something that should be celebrated as part of International Women’s Day.
~ Anna Henderson, former Kinsale Guide