Created July 19, 1997 - Last updated February 25, 1999

Compiled by Jennifer Walker, Edmonton AB

WAGGGS's Youth Representatives to the World Board

Promoting the real participation of Young Women within WAGGGS - an article

WAGGGS's Youth Representatives to the World Board

At the 1996 World Conference in Nova Scotia, Canada, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts voted:

"That among the voting members in all Sub-Committees there shall be at least one young woman under the age of 30 at the time of her election\appointment" and

"That in 1999 and at each subsequent World Conference, at least one young woman be elected to the World Board".

Also, the attending delegations agreed by vote, to nominate under 30s to responsible positions on a world level. Following the World Conference, myself and Kristine Sorensen from Denmark were nominated to serve a 3 year term on the World Board. There are young women on all Sub-committees of the World Board and all Regional Committees.

Since then, we have implemented a policy entitled "Young Women in Decision-Making", a document adopted by the World Board which supports the participation of young women aged 18-30 in decision-making positions at all levels of the Association.

Our experience on the Board has been a very positive one. We have been involved in every aspect of the work taken on by the Board, from strategic thinking on the future of WAGGGS, to analysis of finances, World Conference planning, Training & Development issues etc. Pretty exciting stuff!

We are currently looking into a separate webpage for young women on the WAGGGS website. Keep that site bookmarked!

As a representative of the World Board, I'll be attending the UN World Youth Forum and World Youth Festival in Lisbon, Portugal in August 1998. I intend to write a blurb on these events for this web page. Stay tuned!

- Danielle Bélanger, World Board member, Hull, Québec

Promoting the real participation of Young Women within WAGGGS

-an article from Our World News, March 1998 issue (the official newsletter of WAGGGS)
-Reprinted courtesy of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Our World News (as per copyright notice in the newsletter)

The Mission of WAGGGS "to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world" is a great challenge.  It demands that we prepare girls and young women for leadership in the world of tomorrow, but they must have a role within the world today.  We cannot prepare them to be "responsible citizens" if we treat them as passive observers.

WAGGGS has always recognized that girls and young women must play an important role, both within WAGGGS and its Member Organizations, to ensure that the organization remains relevant to their needs.  However, there has been much debate on what is the best method to achieve this.  Is it better to allow young women to meet together and then to advise decision-making bodies or is it better to have young women directly involved in the decision-making process themselves?  This debate on different models of youth participation was presented to the 29th World Conference by young delegates themselves in order to encourage MOs to consider how they were tackling this issue.

The issue of youth participation, like many other issues in an organization such as WAGGGS, is an evolving process.  At the 28th World Conference, WAGGGS decided that it could no longer wait until MOs began to nominate young women for WAGGGS' Committees and it decided to take the lead by appointing a Youth Committee within WAGGGS.  This Committee, consisting of ten young women, met three times during the triennium and reported regularly to the World Committee.  It also provided a pool of skilled young women able to represent WAGGGS at UN and other events.

These ten young women struggled to understand how they could best represent young women from over 130 countries and how they could provide a real input into WAGGGS' decision-making structures.  Nicole Abboud-Bakhache, Chairman of the Youth Committee, was an ex-officio member of the World Committee, and, as such, had a direct opportunity to influence decisions.  However, at the end of the triennium, the Youth Committee was clear about how it saw the next step for WAGGGS in youth participation.  In addressing the 29th World Conference, Nicole concluded:

"The Youth Committee wants WAGGGS to be an Association which knows, above all, how to combine in the same decision-making committees, the wisdom, life, experience and worldwide contacts of its older members with the know-how, energy and idealistic ideas of younger members "
This challenge was taken up by WAGGGS in preparing its goals for the triennium 1996-1999.  A goal was adopted to "involve young women at all levels of decision-making" and this was immediately followed by decisions at the 29th World Conference to include two young women on the World Board and one young woman on each of its Committees.  These young women are now playing an active role within the Board and Committees and are a reminder to each of us that Girl Guiding/Scouting not only offers an opportunity for girls and young women to gain skills but also provides an opportunity to put those skills into practice.

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