Leadership in Parliament House could very well be improved today, as Girl Guides Australia kick off their ‘Guiding at the House’ event in Canberra.
The event will see CEO Karen Bevan joining Chief Commissioner Helen Geard in taking 20 Guides to Parliament house, to help launch and promote a number of key programs.
Globally, Girl Guides has more than 10 million members in 146 countries and is the world’s largest girls-only volunteer organisation.
In Australia, the movement attracts around 22,000 members, including 19,000 girls.
CEO Karen Bevan told Women’s Agenda it’s a number they’re hoping to increase in the months and years to come.
She believes Girl Guides can provide an excellent opportunity for girl to engage in issues that matter to them, as well as avenues for contributing to important national conversations – such as ending violence against women.
“Even though violence against women is an issue everyone is talking about, one of the things we’re not hearing about is the experience and read on that in young women,” she said.
“We’re working with girls around the issue, asking what is gender inequality? What does violence look like? How do you experience it? This is something they experience. They know about gender equality. They want to make sure that it changes.”
Karen said the group will introduce the international Voices Against Violence to parliament today, a partnership program between UN Women and Girl Guides all over the world that aims to develop a global community committed to ending violence women and girls.
They will also launch their Getting into Governance program, designed to develop governance leadership skills in girls aged 16 to 24.
Karen’s been in the job a few months and while clearly passionate about the movement, concedes she never had an opportunity to join Girl Guides herself as a child. “I wanted to, but like many mothers, my mother couldn’t actually get me there!”
That, she said, is still a key barrier for attracting members today and something they are looking to address. While for some the issue is distance, for others it comes down to a lack of time.
“My key focus is on really making sure that we present the modern face of guiding to the community and the world. We need to build our identity and our story so that more people hear it, remember it, engage with it and want to be part of it,” she said.
Pictured Above: Girl Guides today with MP Mike Kelly.