What does advocacy mean to me? I think for some perhaps, at first a red flag shoots into their mind, picturing the girls picketing the streets, but for me, I picture advocacy a little differently since my recent international travel experience.
This past March I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Be the Change event at Sangam in India, focusing on the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 3 (Gender Equality and Women Empowerment). I attended this event as the Canadian representative and spent a week with women from Australia, Rwanda, India, the United States and Japan. We took time to discuss our countries’ involvement and advancements within the context of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, and we discussed what is next, and our role as Girl Guides/Girl Scouts will be. This is my definition of advocacy: a word that can encompass fear for some, but can also mean education and engagement for others.
I think that to advocate you need to know what you are advocating for, whom you are advocating for, and why. At Be the Change, we spent part of the week working with local organizations helping empower women through education on health issues, learning English and vocational skills. It was the engagement with these women and young girls that plays an equally important part in my understanding why advocacy is so important: to speak for the silenced, to stand for the ignored.
When the event came to a close and it was time to say goodbye, I came to realize that while my stay at Sangam was brief, it was one that will stay with me always. I learned that through conversations even the most difficult challenges can be broken down and addressed. That while we all came with different stories and backgrounds we had the commonality of Girl Guides which guided us through the most challenging moments. This experience was one that was much greater than a trip to India, it was an opportunity to engage in a conversation much bigger than myself and a chance for young women to gather in one place and work together to tackle what feels like our worlds’ most impossible problems.
I believe that while we cannot solve all the issues in our world, we can ensure that girls are engaging in and learning about these issues, so that when these girls become the next Prime Minister, the next CEO of a company, or the next mom, they can fully encompass Girl Greatness.
By guest blogger Steph Halligan.
What’s New with Girl Guides? On June 21st, Canadians from all walks of life are invited to participate in the many National Aboriginal Day events that will be taking place from coast to coast to coast. We’ve highlighted a select number of related girl programming activities that you could do with your unit to learn more about the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.