In the most “revolutionary” overhaul in the organisation’s history, Girlguiding UK has consigned traditional badges to history in favour of new skills preparing girls to “take on the world”, many of which are unabashedly political.
Set to be phased in over the next 12 months, the new programme advocates girls take inspiration from far-left groups like Black Lives Matter, introducing activities like creating ‘womanifestos’, analysing the media for ‘bias’ and writing to MPs in place of badges which related to traditional activities, like ‘home skills’, ‘musician’, and ‘hostess’.
New badges unveiled by the charity, which has been running since 1909, are grouped under six themes; ‘express myself’, ‘be well’, ‘know myself’, ‘skills for my future’, ‘have adventures’, and ‘take action’.
‘Campaigning’, ‘voting’, and ‘conscious consumer’ are among the badges girls can earn in the ‘take action’ category, along with ‘craftivism’, which involves “crafting items that make a statement, advocate for change and challenge injustice”.
Girl guides are now being given badges for learning how to box, learning about human rights, STEM, media studies, mixology, protesting and so much more🎉🎉🎉🎉 pic.twitter.com/jsQtO2G2iT
— 💫Dami❄ (@JournalsOfDami) July 21, 2018
According to the Daily Mail, the ‘craftivism’ badge literature recommends girls focus on “social justice; environmentalism; ethical clothing campaigns; anti-capitalism; feminism; guerrilla kindness”.
To obtain the ‘protesting’ badge, girls are first introduced to boycotting as a peaceful form of protest before looking at personal safety at large demonstrations, which are described as “exciting and uplifting”.
Told to look to ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Refugees Welcome’, and ‘Ban the Bomb’ for inspiration, girls studying for the badge should “pick an issue that’s important to you, and use alternative protesting methods to protest in as many creative ways as you can [… such as] letter writing, going on strike, through social media, wearing symbols or making displays”.
The ‘know myself’ category features badges including ‘my rights’ and ‘women’s rights’, with literature regarding the ‘human rights’ badge stating: “Human rights keep our society fair and equal [… and they] belong to everyone, no matter where they’re from, what they believe or how they choose to live.”
— Girlguiding (@Girlguiding) July 7, 2018
Headlined “girls just want to have fun…damental rights”, the page for the ‘women’s rights’ badge says: “Things have certainly improved for women over time, but even now some areas of life still aren’t equal.”
“Current women’s rights issues”, according to the organisation, include the so-called tampon tax, media portrayals of “women of colour… [and] women who choose not to have children”, along with female authors such as JK Rowling choosing “to use names which aren’t obviously female”.
The ‘express yourself’ category features the ‘media critic’ badge — which teaches how to “cast a critical eye over the media” — appears to be an introduction to Marxist critical theory, encouraging girls to pick out “gender stereotyping” or LGBT representation in films, as well as to analyse news for “bias”.
Girlguiding UK has become increasingly political in recent years, campaigning on issues including increasing the number of female MPs and against “media sexism and stereotyping”, and it successfully campaigned to make sex and relationship education (SRE) promoting LGBT activity compulsory in schools across England.
Girlguiding members have an important part to play in welcoming refugees to the UK, here's how: https://t.co/mRAmwdrDWR
— Girlguiding (@Girlguiding) November 16, 2016
The organisation’s dedication to moulding young girls into political campaigners is also apparent in new, skills builder badges designed to help girls develop skills as they grow older.
In stage five of the six-stage ‘influence’ programme, girls learn to “identify decision makers and gain the skills to influence them on the issues you care about”, finding out how to harness pressure groups, networking, and “snowflake connectors” in order to “make change happen”.
Commenting on the new programme, Jess Bond, a lead volunteer said: “We’ve always moved with the times and we hope to welcome even more members to girlguiding with this diverse range of activities as there really is something for every girl.
“Our ambition is to give girls the opportunity to discover and develop their interests, skills and confidence, take on new challenges and have fun and adventure with their friends. We want girls to feel equipped to take on the world.”
Parents Rebel Against Rules Allowing Boys and Men into Girl Guides Showers https://t.co/I3QWVLlBOy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 26, 2018
The revamp comes after several already significant changes to the organisation in recent years. Breitbart reported in 2013 after Britain’s Girl Guides removed the promise to ‘love God’ in the oath, traditionally recited at every meeting, and saying they would be true to themselves instead.
In 2017, the organisation said male members of the Guides who identified as females would be allowed to share changing rooms, toilets, tents, and cabins with girls, a move which triggered protest by parents and local leaders. Some of those who objected to the change were dismissed as ‘TERFS’, or Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, by campaigners.