We're launching the UK's largest girl-led advocacy network

16 August 2016

Gender equality campaigner Laura Bates, comedian Bridget Christie and Natasha Devon MBE have shown their support for Girlguiding’s latest project

The innovative project, called Action for Change, will see the launch of nine regional networks over three years, creating the largest girl-led advocacy network in the UK.

Action for Change will give hundreds of young women in guiding the skills, confidence and ongoing support that they need to speak up about the issues that matter to them, build a fairer society and play their part in changing their communities for the better.

It’s so important that girls and young women are supported to speak out when they experience or witness inequality – because that’s how change happens. I think it’s great that Girlguiding is launching Action for Change, as this will give even more girls and young women the opportunity to create the change they want to see - Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism

Through Action for Change, members aged 13 to 25 will have the opportunity to attend a series of training and inspiration weekends.

They will learn key skills such as persuasive storytelling, digital communications, how to influence decision makers, and the role of the media in creating change. They will also hear from young campaigners about what inspired them to turn their ideas into action.

Young women will then be supported to take action in their own unique ways, whether it’s organising a community event, starting a petition, tackling bullying or discrimination they see, fundraising to make changes they care about – or something completely different.

Valerie Le Vaillant, Girlguiding’s Chief Guide, said: 'Helping others and taking social action for positive change has always been at the heart of Girlguiding’s values and programme.

'In today’s digital world, how girls do this is changing fast. Local issues can soon become national and even global calls to action on social media. In recent times we’ve seen some incredibly brave young women raise their voices and make a huge difference to people’s lives where they live, wherever they live!

'We want to support our young members to take their social action to the next level by inspiring them to aim high and building their confidence to take action. I see the amazing things girls can achieve close up in guiding all the time so I’m incredibly excited to see what a positive difference girls can go on to make through this project.'

Eight years of Girlguiding research has shown the daily pressures and discrimination that girls and young women continue to face, from body image anxiety and sexual harassment in schools, to mental health concerns, cyber-bullying and gender stereotypes in education and careers.

Action for Change continues the work done by the charity in recent years to empower a diversity of girls and young women from across the UK to speak out on these issues and others, getting their voices heard on a local and national scale.

Mental health and body confidence campaigner Natasha Devon said: 'Girlguiding has led the charge in listening and responding to the concerns of young women in the modern world. I’m delighted to support this initiative which will empower so many young people and give them a voice.'

Young women in the network will also shape the direction of Girlguiding’s national advocacy initiatives alongside its existing national youth panel Advocate.

Advocate Charlotte Forrester, 17, said: 'Girls are the key to changing their lives for the better. Through my role on Girlguiding’s Advocate panel, I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to speak out on issues that I care about.

'Now, by looking to mobilise our Girlguiding community of half a million girls and young women across the UK, we want to give even more girls the microphone – enabling them to tell their stories, their experiences, their truths and to give their answers to some of the key, tough social issues they face today.'

A spokesperson for the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation added: “We are excited to support Girlguiding’s Action for Change project, which will empower hundreds of girls and young women to take action on the social issues that matter to them. It will ensure that young women’s voices are heard, and are able to contribute to a more just and inclusive society in the UK.'

Yeonmi Park, Fahma Mohamed and Chella Quint are among the high profile supporters who will be taking to social media over the next week, encouraging all girls and young women in the UK to start a conversation about issues they would like to see #ActionforChange on.

Get involved on Twitter and Instagram at @Girlguiding, using the hashtag #ActionforChange.