Next time there’s a protest in town, don’t be surprised if your daughter asks to join you, placard and all. Girlguiding UK has launched a new protest badge for its members, which girls can gain by taking part in a number of political activities, from marching for what they believe in to writing a letter to their local MP.
The badge is part of the largest overhaul of the Girlguiding programme in its 109-year history. More than 800 new badges and activities will be launching on 21 July, each falling into one of six themes: Express Myself, Be Well, Know Myself, Skills For My Future, Have Adventures and Take Action.
In addition to the protesting badge, girls can gain badges in topics including mindfulness, self-care, zero-waste, upcycling, entrepreneurship, crafting and women’s rights. The activities have been designed to equip girls and young women with the skills and experiences they will need to succeed and be happy in the modern world.
The new badges were designed following extensive consultation with the brownies and guides themselves, with more than 50,000 girls testing the potential activities and feeding back to group leaders about their ideas. The new protesting badge is aimed at girls aged 14-18 years old, who are known in the organisation as Rangers.
Evelyn Greeves, a 19-year-old member of the Girlguiding Advocate Panel, is excited about the opportunities the badge will bring. The panel listens to members and leads projects on issues they care about, and the York University student has already campaigned on topics including sexual harassment in schools and period poverty.
“Being involved in those campaigns is an amazing feeling,” Evelyn, who has been a member of Girlguiding since the age of four, tells HuffPost UK.
“It’s really empowering to make your voice heard and to see the tangible effects of your voice being heard. It makes you feel really proud and it gives you a lot of confidence that your voice is really powerful and means something.”
Evelyn believes the new protesting badge will help younger members have the same opportunities she has had on the panel since joining two years ago.
“Giving girls and leaders these resources will hopefully encourage more girls to do campaigning and let them experience that adrenaline rush of making a difference,” she says.
Girls have to complete three elements to gain any of the new interest badges. For protesting, this could be anything from attending a march to boycotting a brand, writing a letter to their MP, recording a podcast about an issue they care about or creating a guide for young people on how to protest safely in public.
The guidelines around each badge are purposefully open, meaning they can be interpreted by each girl as she chooses, allowing members to express their individuality.
Protesting has always been at the heart of Girlguiding. The organisation began with a protest in Crystal Palace more than 100 years ago when girls demanded their own organisation following the establishment of the Scouts.
In the years since, the Girlguiding has continued to encourage its half a million members to use their voice to stand up for what they believe in. Back in June, some members took part in Processions – a mass march in cities across the country celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage and supporting continuing advancements in women’s rights.
The new programme launches on 21 June but will be phased in over the next 12 months, with new badges available across the UK by September 2019.