Our history

'I like the idea that I’m a role model – I like the idea that I'm inspiring young women.' – Kashina, young leader

Girlguiding has a long history of empowering girls and young women to be their best.

From a small handful of girls who gatecrashed the first-ever Scout rally, demanding ‘something for the girls’, Girlguiding has grown into a vast and vibrant network of members across the UK.

The Guide Association was established in 1909 – thanks to the efforts of many intrepid girls who refused to accept that scouting was 'just for boys'. Soon, these young women began completing badges in sailing, aviation and home electrics. Later still, Girlguiding members were making important contributions to the First World War effort – growing food, acting as messengers for government organisations and working in hospitals, factories and soup kitchens.

It's been over 100 years since Girlguiding was established, and our members are still pushing boundaries and achieving great things.

Our evolution

As the needs of girls have changed Girlguiding has listened and evolved too.

In the early days we heard girls' calls for new age groups and set up Brownies (originally called Rosebuds) for girls under 11. A Senior Guide group for older girls was established in 1916 – now called Rangers. Our youngest group, Rainbows, joined us in 1987.

During World Wars I and II our volunteers and young members showed an incredible commitment to social action. Between 1914 and 1918 Guides acted as messengers for confidential information for The Marconi Wireless Telegraph. And in 1940 our members raised over £50,000 to help the war effort. We even set up a committee to select and train Leaders for relief work after the war, called the Guide International Service.

Throughout the 20th century we continued to develop a programme which encouraged girls to challenge themselves. In 1966, six Guides broke the girls' relay record for swimming the English Channel. We also launched GOLD, giving young women – many of whom had never travelled abroad before – the opportunity to connect with guiding members overseas and lead development, training and relief projects.

More than 100 years after Girlguiding began we continue to do amazing things. We've launched a number of fun-packed events for our members, marched at Pride and celebrated not one, but three centenaries.

In 2018 we launched a brand-new programme for all our members from Rainbows to Rangers. It was the biggest refresh of badges and awards that Girlguiding had ever seen. Led by the skills and passions of girls today, we created six themes for our members to explore and introduced over 800 new badges and activities.

We have established our girl-led peer education programme, training our peer educators to talk about subjects like body confidence, healthy relationships and other issues facing young women. We continue to focus on championing the voices of girls, establishing our youth panel, advocate and working to create the change girls want to see with Future Girl.

Guiding today


Girlguiding is still committed to listening to what girls need and delivering new and inspiring opportunities. Find out what our members get up to today.