Girls Matter

Girls in guiding spoke out at the last General Election and your voices have made real change happen

We launched Girls Matter back in 2015 - see what you've achieved together since then

Girls Matter was our campaign during the 2015 General Election, to call for the next government to help change and improve girls' and young women's lives. Since then, a lot has happened, and girls and young women can take credit for some amazing achievements.

The bravery of your voices speaking out on often hidden or trivialised issues has meant that decision-makers have had to sit up, listen and take action.

Check out all the success you can celebrate as we head towards the snap General Election, which the Prime Minister has called for 8 June.

What you called for - and the difference you've made

Following a consultation with over 2,400 Girlguiding young members, the national Advocate panel defined the top eight calls for change from everyone's views.

In a nutshell, your campaigning has meant:

  • decision-makers are listening to girls' and young women's voices more than ever before
  • the law has changed, twice, to make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) compulsory in England and to make sure access to online pornography more tightly controlled in the UK
  • a decision on Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) is closer than ever - the new SRE law means that the Education Minister can introduce PSHE in England without asking parliament again
  • gender equality is prominently featured in the global Sustainable Development Goals
  • sexual harassment at school has become a headline issue, with a government action plan in place for England to stamp it out.

Feel proud. This is amazing progress.

Click on each call to read more about how your voices have won all this change. You can still download the full report to explore the calls in full.

1. Listen to girls and young women, take them seriously and make sure their voices count

Promise to regularly consult girls and young women from all backgrounds and ensure their views are considered in policy decisions that affect their lives.

Success. We've seen a steep change on this. Girls' voices have made a big impact on big issues. But we won't stop here - we'll keep on making sure that your voices and views get heard on the things that matter most to you now and in the future.

2. Demand schools take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment

Promise to introduce guidance that all schools must use to tackle this issue.

Wow! Success. In 2015 we didn't think that in just two years the political and media debate on this issue would have transformed like it has. By sharing your experiences and being passionate about equality and freedom from harassment at school, you have made this headline news over and over again.

Girls' voices have featured in TV and radio shows on this topic since we launched Girls Matter, there's been a Westminster parliamentary inquiry, the Advocates' petition campaign, and a government response with a list of actions they're taking to stamp this out in schools in England and Wales. And we'll keep up the pressure so real action is taken in every nation across the UK. We'll keep working to make sure the next government follows through but you've created a major shift in attitudes and action on this.

3. Call on all schools to teach body confidence and gender equality

Promise to make Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) compulsory and urge schools to include lessons on body confidence and gender equality.

We're nearly there. The new law that makes Sex and Relationship Education compulsory for all schools in England (see below) also makes it possible for the next government to introduce compulsory PSHE without changing the law again. You've been passionate and tireless in campaigning for PSHE and we'll be keeping up the pressure!

4. Make girls’ rights a priority in the UK's approach to international development

Promise that the Department for International Development will focus on equality for girls, including advocating for girls' rights to be central to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Success. Thousands of girls and women and the organisations that work with them made sure our government took the gender equality message to the table. Sustainable Development Goal 5 now reads, 'Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls'.

5. Stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content in mainstream media

Promise to bring print and online media in line with the principles of the broadcast watershed.

Success. We've still got a long way to go but there's been real progress on this issue in the last two years.

After a lot of consultation and debate that we made sure girls were a part of, a new law was passed to make pornography websites ensure viewers are aged over 18 before they can access the content. This is referred to as age verification, and tackles an important element of a large issue - showing that decision-makers are really taking this call seriously.

We believe that compulsory Sex and Relationship Education (another win) will also help to equip children and young people with skills and resilience to help keep themselves safe online.

6. Empower girls and young women to speak out and be heard on the impact of media sexism and stereotyping

Promise to establish a girls' and young women' s advisory panel to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

To make real change in how women are represented in the media, we'll be turning our attention to media outlets themselves and calling on them to listen to girls and end media sexism.

We've started already - check out the Advocates' General Election calls to the media to report what politicians say not what they look like.

7. Modernise Sex and Relationships Education so all young people can make informed decisions and stay safe

Promise to make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in all schools and update the curriculum to include healthy relationships, sexual consent, online safety, violence against women and girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships.

Another wow! Success. You have made all the difference in this campaign to make SRE compulsory.

This is a fantastic campaign win that really shows the power that young people's voices have. The law has changed so that ALL schools in England will have to teach Relationships and Sex Education from 2019.

We'll be actively working with whoever the next government is to make sure the guidance for schools on how to teach this subject covers all the things you've said are important to you.

8. Guarantee that women will be equally represented in parliament

Promise to set a target for an increased number of female MPs in your party by the 2020 General Election and do what it takes to meet it, no excuses.

Political parties have had two years to start making changes on this call. We'll see how well they've done after 8 June!

What's next?

You've changed laws and attitudes over the last two years that we believe will help transform girls' and young women's lives for the better. And that is hugely inspiring. Now we're on a journey together.

From talking to girls and seeing the evidence from our annual Girls' Attitudes Survey, we know we still have a way to go to make Britain a fair and equal place for all girls and young women.

So we'll keep working on these key issues to make sure the gains we've made through Girls Matter translate into improving girls' real, everyday experiences. And we'll be seeking your views again for how we can continue to tackle the top challenges you and your peers can face.

Right now, we're calling on all young women aged 18 and over to register to vote and then use their voices in the election on June 8.  The success of Girls Matter shows you can make a difference. 

Get your voice heard in the 2017 General Election

Learn more about how you can make your vote – and voice – count come June 8.

Find out more