If you think Girl Guides are all about selling cookies, you have a thing or two to learn about one of the oldest and biggest feminist organizations in the world.
Thin Mints are only just a piece of the puzzle, helping over 10 million girls worldwide to “challenge themselves, to find their voice, meet new friends, have fun and make a difference in the world”. Here’s how they started and what they’re doing to promote feminism in 2018.
Over 100 years of history
It turns out that Girl Guides have been badass feminists from the very start, and it all started with a group of English girls in 1909.
The Boy Scouts were formed in 1908 by Robert Baden-Powell, and understandably, the girls wanted in on all of the outdoorsy action. The girls demanded to be able to take part in this boys-only rally, which resulted in a separate organization being formed for them by Baden-Powell’s sister.
Founded on Inclusion
So many aspects of the Girl Guides are intentionally designed to empower its members. The uniforms are designed to unify and hide all traces of economic differences, the guiding promises and laws focus on doing your best, and it’s seen as a huge positive that every girl has different talents and abilities, and acknowledges them accordingly.
The Girl Guides are also open to transgender girls, as well as girls with disabilities, and of all races and religions. Girl Guide programs start as young as 5, and although traditional programs run until about age 17, the Lone Scouts programs are open to all ages of girls living in isolated areas or those who cannot attend regular meetings for various reasons.
"Of course we are feminists. Everything we do is about supporting girls, developing their confidence, ambition and aspirations" - Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Girl Guiding UK
Basic survival skills are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to useful life skills that the Girl Guides focus on with their members, and they truly focus on making girls independent, educated and compassionate members of society in all ways.
Some of the additional badass feminist skills learned through Girl Guides include: money management, violence against women, exchange programs, community safety for women, rethinking beauty standards, healthy eating, healthy relationships, utilizing basic tools, community volunteering, online safety, conservation and even career options.
On top of all of that, Girl Guides provides a consistent and safe environment for girls to form healthy relationships with each other, be influenced by strong female leaders and role models, and become exposed to a world of opportunities and skills that just aren’t available in most schools or homes.
If helping young women develop their full potential as leaders and active citizens of the world doesn’t make them one of the top feminist organizations in the world, we don’t know what does. So, the next time you’re greeted by a smiling face and a box of Tagalongs, think less about the calories you’ll be consuming and more about the young feminist lives your cookie purchases are supporting with every delicious box.
To get involved as a volunteer or find more information for a young woman in your life, learn more about the Girl Guides here.