A woman’s place? It’s wherever she wants it to be, say Girlguide leaders
Feminist message at heart of youth organisation’s latest campaign as it tries to attract new volunteers
GIRLGUIDING has started a national recruitment campaign with the movement telling women that their place is “wherever they want it to be”.
The campaign, which focuses on empowering women and girls, will use the hashtag #Knowyourplace – in a riff on a phrase often used to put down women.
A promotional video features groups of girls mountain biking, playing with a parachute and learning sign language.
Volunteers said they were attracted by the feminist message of Girlguiding. Gemma Rolls-bentley, who helps out at groups in London, said: “Some of the issues Girlguiding chooses to tackle around gender equality, professional opportunities and relationships and sex education are important issues.
“And a lot of women like myself, in their twenties and thirties, are really struggling to understand how they can have an impact, how they can make a change and make a difference and Girlguiding really offers a way to do that.”
Sally Illsley, deputy chief Guide, said: “The spirit of the campaign is to turn the old-fashioned idea that a woman should know her place on its head and to make clear that a woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be.”
Some volunteer roles, such as unit leader and assistant leader, are open only to women, while helper roles are open to all adults. The 70,000-strong waiting list for girls wishing to join is not the largest ever, but demand is “extremely high”, said Jess Bond, a lead volunteer for national projects.
“We want to take action now to try and tackle it rather than waiting for the numbers to increase,” she said. “It is fantastic that so many girls want to join us, it is our aim to remain relevant and change as the needs of girls and young women change.”
She said the organisation was in the process of updating its badge system to focus on “adventure, and challenge and life skills” that “take girls out of their comfort zone”.
Groups were also focusing on “honest” conversations about body issues and sex education, she said, adding that the “girls-only” environment meant that girls felt more comfortable asking questions that they may not be happy to raise at school or at home.
While the overall number of volunteers has remained steady for three years, more are saying they have less time to give up.
Ms Bond said: “The number has remained steady over the last three years at around 100,000, but we are seeing an upward trend in people looking for flexible volunteering opportunities. This is something recognised across the voluntary sector as people look to fit volunteering into their busy lives.”