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The Power And Passion Of Girls Must Prevail

This year, we've put girls firmly in the spotlight. We've encouraged them to speak out on a global stage, share their stories with the world and be the change they want to see.

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are making their voices heard. Credit: WAGGGS

This year, we've put girls firmly in the spotlight.

We've encouraged them to speak out on a global stage, share their stories with the world and be the change they want to see.

In a world marred with challenges and conflict, many of the issues we currently face directly affects girls - and often disproportionately so. From the ongoing refugee crisis to violence and everyday sexism, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is providing a platform for girls so they can tell the world what it's like to grow up as a girl today.

Supporting girls to speak out

As the world's biggest Movement for girls, we know that if we support girls to speak out, they will make an impact through their sheer power and passion.

Throughout 2016, I've seen Girl Guides and Girl Scouts inspire leaders, creating change in their communities, their country and internationally.

Earlier this year the UN's Commission on the Status of Women, the leading conference on gender equality and empowerment of women, took place in New York.

As experts on their own needs, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts were given an opportunity to address world leader on issues affecting them.

Shellmith, 25, from Kenya, was one of them. Shellmith is a young leader with the Kenya Girl Guides Association. She trains girls who live in Kibera, Kenya's biggest slum, so they are able to get a job and enjoy a bright future. She told me how she's passionate about entrepreneurship and how, when girls are given support, they really can change their world

"An empowered girl with entrepreneurial skills can come up with green ventures that sustain our world better, thus be the change we all need," she said.

Shellmith is determined to see girls succeed - and she's just one of our 10 million inspiring Girl Guides and Girl Scouts who are speaking out on important issues, gaining leadership skills and making a difference.

Tackling issues

This year alone, our Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have worked on issues such as mental health, body confidence, violence and sexual harassment in schools.

At Women Deliver 2016, girls from across the world educated the international community about the importance of body confidence, sharing the skills they had learnt from their non-formal education sessions facilitated by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

They urged leaders to recognise body confidence as a global issue, which affects all girls and young women, and called for it to be taken seriously.

Leading the way

WAGGGS' Regional Conference in Africa saw girls from across the continent share their experiences of what their lives are really like. Undeterred by challenges, these girls and young women are determined not to be bystanders, but rather leaders in their communities.

The work these young leaders are doing in country - whether it's stopping violence, making reusable sanitary pads or educating others about the importance of body confidence - is nothing short of amazing and, again, it's the same for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts across the world.

Girl Guides of Syria stand in solidarity. Credit: WAGGGS

In October, we celebrated International Day of the Girl. We called for our 10 million members to get involved, share messages and photos showing why girls' rights matter. In war-torn Syria, our Girl Guide troop in country bravely shared a photograph of the group united, standing up for girls' rights, sending a powerful message across our Movement and to the world.

Most recently, we've worked hard to highlight the issue of sexual harassment in schools. Using our U-Report tool, we asked young people from around the world whether they believe it's an issue.

Over two thirds of young people told us sexual harassment is an overwhelming problem for girls, with more than half saying it stops them from studying and taking part in hobbies.

As a parent and as Chief Executive of World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, it is a major cause for concern when girls and young women feel unsafe in a school environment, which is traditionally thought to be a safe space.

While the statistics are shocking, over 1,400 young people also took the opportunity to share how they are tackling violence in school, whether it's involving boys or holding afterschool clubs, while WAGGGS continues to encourage girls and women to speak out about it, through our Voices Against Violence curriculum

Power and passion of girls

Again, it drives home the power and passion of young people involved in our Movement.

We're so glad other people see the true value of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. I'd like to extend a warm thank you to all our volunteers and supporters who continue to donate their time and money to our Movement. It's this generosity that ensures our Member Organisations are supported so our Movement is united, thriving and growing.

In a world beset with shock and disaster, we are committed to ensuring young women and girls have the tools they need to go forward, make their voices heard and tackle issues important to them.

As the year comes to a close and new one beckons, I hope the power and passion of girls and young women will prevail and that'll you continue to stand with us in any way you can.

To find out how you can support our work at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, visit:

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